Friday, July 21, 2006


Secondhand smoke
Surgeon General Warns of Secondhand Smoke
By Lauran NeergaardAP Medical Writer –WASHINGTON (AP) -- Separate smoking sections don't cut it: Only smoke-free buildings and public places truly protect nonsmokers from the hazards of breathing in other people's tobacco smoke, says a long-awaited surgeon general's report.
Some 126 million nonsmokers are exposed to secondhand smoke, what U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona repeatedly calls "involuntary smoking" that puts people at increased risk of death from lung cancer, heart disease and other illnesses.
The new report gives new scientific ammunition against those challenges, said Matthew Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
"There is no longer a scientific controversy that secondhand smoke is a killer," he said. The report "eliminates any excuse from any state or city for taking halfway measures to restrict smoking, or permitting smoking in any indoor workplace."
Among other findings:

-Separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air and ventilation systems don't eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke.

-There is good evidence that comprehensive smoking bans, like those in New York City and Boston, don't economically hurt the hospitality industry.

-Workplace smoking restrictions not only reduce secondhand smoke but discourage active smoking by employees.

-Secondhand smoke can act on the arteries so quickly that even a brief pass through someone else's smoke can endanger people at high risk of heart disease.
Don't ever smoke around a sick relative, Carmona advised

Living with a smoker increases a nonsmoker's risk of lung cancer and heart disease by up to 30 percent.

-There isn't proof that secondhand smoke causes breast cancer, although the evidence is suggestive. California earlier this year cited that link in becoming the first state to declare secondhand smoke a toxic air pollutant.

-On the plus side, blood measurements of a nicotine byproduct show that exposure to secondhand smoke has decreased. Levels dropped by 75 percent in adults and 68 percent in children between the early 1990s and 2002. However, not only has children's exposure declined less rapidly, but levels of that byproduct among children are more than twice as high as in nonsmoking adults.

© 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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