Restaurant company Yum! Brands has announced that all company owned KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants are to have a now smoking policy.

Beginning next week and on a phased basis, “No Smoking” signs will be placed in all 1,200 KFC and 1,675 Pizza Hut restaurants owned by the company in the United States, it said. The companies will also actively encourage their respective franchise operators to participate in this effort. There are 4,200 KFC franchised restaurants and 4,600 Pizza Hut franchised restaurants in the United States.

The move is in response to the growing concern and heightened awareness of second-hand smoke, lung cancer illness and recent lung cancer deaths. In a joint statement, Gregg Dedrick, president of KFC, and Peter Hearl, president of Pizza Hut said, “KFC and Pizza Hut are concerned about our customers’ and employees’ health regarding the dangers of second-hand smoke. We are taking this action today to help heighten awareness of second-hand smoke issues raised by the US Surgeon General, Richard Carmona, who has indicated second-hand smoke may be harmful and hazardous to the health of the general public. This is a critical issue. In our opinion, going smoke-free is simply the right thing to do.”

“The American Lung Association applauds both KFC and Pizza Hut for their efforts. This shows that they are concerned about the health of their employees and customers. Our experience is that the public embraces smoke-free environments. We hope that others follow their lead,” said John L Kirkwood, president and CEO, American Lung Association.

“We applaud the decision made today by Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut to put the health of their employees and customers first and institute smoke-free policies in all their restaurants nationwide,” said, Carolyn D. Runowicz, MD, president-elect of the American Cancer Society. “Smoke knows no bounds and secondhand smoke is a known health hazard. The vast majority of Americans support smoke-free policies. This decision mirrors those feelings, and will most certainly save lives.”