This article was written by Louis LaSalle and Dr. Perry Weinstock

In just a few days a dark cloud will lift from New Jersey and we will all breath easier when the New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act goes into effect on April 15. A long time coming, we look forward to a healthier Garden State and to fewer of our friends, family members and neighbors dying or becoming ill due to the effects of secondhand smoke.

As American Heart Association board members, New Jersey residents and parents, we applaud the NJ Legislature, our State leadership. New Jersey BREATHES, the public health community, and all those involved in bringing about this historical day on April 15. The collective breath New Jersey takes that day will be the beginning of healthier air for all of us.

Being in a smoke-filled room is worse than smoking a cigarette, says the American Heart Association. The smoke from the tip of a cigarette breathed in by others is 20 times more dangerous than what a smoker inhales.

We look forward to visiting diners and restaurants we didn’t previously frequent because they allowed smoking. We look forward to bringing our children or grandchildren to bowling alleys that once allowed smoking. We look forward to seeing performances in nightclubs that once allowed smoking but are now smoke-free. And we look forward to our friends, neighbors and family members being able to earn a living in these and other establishments while no longer having to risk their health or lives simply to earn that living.

We encourage you to visit New Jersey restaurants, bowling alleys, nightclubs, diners and other establishments that were once “smoke allowed.” Bring friends or family members and let the owner know that you are spending money there because the business is now smoke-free and healthier. Here’s to a smoke-free and healthier Garden State!

Learn more about the New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act, smoking cessation programs, or request a FREE American Heart Association Smoke-Free Air Act party kit by calling the American Heart Association at 732-821-2610.

LaSalle is chairman of the Board of Directors of the American Heart Association, North Jersey. Weinstock is president, American Heart Association, South Jersey, Board of Directors

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