Surgeon General Drops the Hammer on Second Hand Smoke
> 6/28/2006 9:14:10 AM

In what amounts to the most stern condemnation of secondhand smoke to date, the Surgeon General released a new report this week, updating the Surgeon General's stance on the subject for the first time since 1986. Dr. Richard Carmona, Surgeon General since 2002, said that there is now incontrovertible evidence that secondhand smoke accounts for tens of thousands of premature deaths a year. Some of the specific points of his report highlight the devastating effects that secondhand smoke can have.
  1. There is no safe level of secondhand smoke, and even brief exposure can cause harm, especially for people suffering from heart or respiratory diseases.

  2. For nonsmoking adults, exposure raises the risk of heart disease by 25 percent to 30 percent and of cancer by 20 percent to 30 percent. It accounted for 46,000 premature deaths from heart disease and 3,000 premature deaths from cancer last year.

  3. Secondhand smoke is a cause of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, accounting for 430 deaths last year. The risk is elevated for children whose mothers were exposed during pregnancy and for children exposed in their homes after birth.

  4. The impact on the health and development of children is more severe than previously thought. "Children are especially vulnerable to the poisons in secondhand smoke," Dr. Carmona said.

  5. Efforts to minimize the effect of secondhand smoke by separating smokers and nonsmokers are ineffective, as are ventilation systems in a shared space.

  6. While exposure has declined, as many as 60 percent of nonsmokers show biological evidence of encountering secondhand smoke, and 22 percent of children are exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes.
While he stopped short of calling for a federal ban on smoking in public places, saying his job is to put the information into the hands of the public and lawmakers, the implications of the Surgeon General's report are very clear. We've known that exposure to smoke is unhealthy for years, but the fight to change policy has been a difficult one as big tobacco is a powerful lobby. The right to choose how we live has been an important part of what makes the U.S. such a wonderful country. But it is clear that some people's decisions to smoke are in fact killing those who have chosen not to, and that is why there needs to be, and most likely will be, some sort of federal action in the near future. The Surgeon General has been very clear in his declarations, and it is now time that we be very clear in our actions.


I am Bipolar and wondering about the effects of second hand smoke on my aniety, depression, mood swings, lethargy, motivation, interaction with mediactions, headaches and general mental health.
Posted by: Philip Milano 7/27/2006 10:31:16 AM

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