15 Sep 2008

Health officials in American Samoa back bill to ban public smoking

11:12 am on 15 September 2008

LBJ hospital and Health Department officials in American Samoa have given their support to a House bill that would ban smoking in public places, and have urged House members to expedite its approval.

The bill would permit the owner of a public place (such as a restaurant, sports arena, or theater) to designate a smoking area on the premises but prohibits smoking on buses and in taxis, and in public areas of retail stores and lobbies of financial institutions.

LBJ physician, Tofaeono Dr. Victor Williams, has told lawmakers that smoking is one of the most preventable causes of disease in the U.S. and the world.

He says that in American Samoa, lung cancer is the leading cause of death and smoking leads to an increased risk of dying from stroke and heart disease.

He voiced concern about the growing problem of youth smoking, saying that local youth is very strongly involved in smoking beginning at grade school.

He also said that 25 states in the nation have enacted laws banning smoking in public places and it's estimated that by the year 2010 all of the United States will be smoke free.