Deborah Hudson, state representative
Through the Clean Indoor Air Act, Debbie Hudson initiated a revolutionary public health policy that continues to reap benefits. Many Delawareans have become accustomed to enjoying smoke-free indoor public places. But until 10 years ago, employees and patrons of businesses statewide were routinely exposed to second-hand smoke. While the health effects of smoking were well-established, including increased risks of cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease, the similar risks of inhaling second-hand smoke were less accepted by the public. Yet heart disease remained the No.1 cause of death in Delaware, and the state’s cancer rates were among the highest in the nation. In 2002 Rep. Hudson, Rep. Robert Valihura, Sen. David McBride, Sen. Patricia Blevins and several other legislators introduced the bill that made Delaware the second state in the nation with an indoor smoking ban. The law also changed attitudes about tobacco use. As the air cleared, appreciative residents helped reinforce the new standards and added momentum to the decline in smoking. Delaware’s adult smoking rates dropped by 28 percent from 1999 to 2009.