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Dangers of Second-Hand Smoke

07/3/2007
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BY

The dangers of cigarette smoking have been well documented over the last three decades. However, recent studies on the dangers of exposure to smokers are revealing the startling information about the dangers presented by exposure to second-hand smoke. Remarkably, it has been only in the last few years that reports from the Surgeon General have begun to focus on the risks of second-hand smoke exposure for nonsmokers.

The dangers of cigarette smoking have been well documented over the last three decades. However, recent studies on the dangers of exposure to smokers are revealing the startling information about the dangers presented by exposure to second-hand smoke. Remarkably, only last year, the Surgeon General determined that there is “no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.”

A recent article published in the American Journal of Public Health found that a carcinogen found in cigarette smoke actually increases the danger in a measurable way which can be measured in as short a time period as hour-by-hour. Researchers found that restaurant employees working a normal evening shift at a typical establishment which allows smoking “gradually accumulated higher levels of NNK, a carcinogen in cigarette smoke, at the rate of 6% each hour they worked. NNK is known to be involved in inducing lung cancer in both lab rats and smokers.”

The lead author of the study and principal investigator at the Mulmomah County Health Department in Oregon, Michael Stark, expressed surprise in the immediacy of the damage and the fact that the damage could be measured in such a short increment of time.

Is it too late to expect the tobacco industry to do the right thing?

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