Nonsmokers at Risk in Smokefree States - “Shocking” Amount of Exposure in “Smokefree” NYC
More than one half of all New Yorkers tested have elevated levels of a nicotine byproduct.
Most of them, like American nonsmokers in a growing number of so-called “smokefree jurisdictions,” do not think they are being exposed.
They know that smoking is banned in virtually all public places they go – including both restaurants and bars, as well as places of business.
They also know that New York City has fewer smokers per capita than many other American cities, in part because cigarettes typically now cost $9.00 a pack or more due to higher taxes.
So how can nonsmokers be placed at risk by exposure to smoke in “smokefree” jurisdictions they are now even aware of?
It Can Kill You Anyway!
As ASH has long warned nonsmokers, someone else’s smoke can kill you if even if you can barely smell it, and even if you can’t smell it.
The CDC has warned that as little as 30 minutes of exposure to the small amounts of drifting tobacco smoke you may be exposed to in the no-smoking section of a restaurant can trigger a fatal heart attack.
This is especially true for men over 40 or post-menopausal women, and anyone who is obese, doesn’t get enough exercise, has a personal or family history of cardiovascular problems, has diabetes, high blood pressure and/or elevated cholesterol, or other medical problems.
The fact that 56.7% of New Yorkers had an elevated level of cotinine (the breakdown product of nicotine from tobacco smoke), and that almost half of all nonsmokers in many other cities also have elevated levels, shows that they are exposed to significant levels of smoke – to which there is no safe level of exposure.
Most Nonsmokers ARE Exposed!
Researchers believe that these elevated exposure levels come from passing through crowds who are smoking near doorways, waiting with smokers at bus stops or on other lines, or even passing smokers on the street.
They suggest that this inadvertent exposure is a consequence of living in any dense urban environment with smokers.
Another source of this pollution seems to be smoke drifting or being re-circulated from one apartment (or hotel or dorm room) to another – a particularly insidious form of exposure since it can occur for many hours at night while people are asleep and therefore unaware.
How to Protect Your Family
The first step is to be sure every family member and friend is aware of the problem.
They should see if anyone sharing their heating system smokes and, if so, demand action.
They should join you in pressing for smoking bans outdoors (where more of the unnecessary exposure occurs), as well as restrictions in any multiple-dwelling buildings like apartments or condos, hotels and motels, dormitories, facilities for the elderly, etc.
Most importantly, says ASH, don’t become complacent.
Support organizations like ASH which are successfully fighting for your rights as a non-smoker, even if you happen to live in a city where most indoor smoking is banned.
This study in Nicotine & Tobacco Research should be a wake-up call for all nonsmokers. Don’t think the battle has been won – it hasn’t, and YOU are still at risk.
See "Secondhand Smoke Exposure Pervasive in New York": LINK
Abstract from Nicotine & Tobacco Research LINK
E-CIGARETTES -- ASH Legal Complaint Hits E-Cigarettes: New Product Poses Dangers For Both Smokers and Nonsmokers
COMING SOON TO A NO-SMOKING SECTION WHERE YOU ARE SITTING:
A new device for addicted smokers who want to be able to get their nicotine fix by “smoking” in places where smoking is prohibited, and do so by exhaling a cloud of “smoke” made up of a chemical which is both toxic and addictive.
This new product, already being sold and used in many U.S. cities, is called an e-cigarette.
It doesn’t burn tobacco, but it does allow smokers to inhale – and to exhale into the air around them – the addictive substance nicotine which constricts blood vessels, increases the heart rate, and produces other changes in a body (especially in people not accustomed to it).
Most astonishingly, the product is now not subject to any regulation, so we have no way of knowing what other chemicals might also be given off when the user exhales into the air.
ASH to the Rescue
To help protect nonsmokers, and also smokers who might use the product instead of quitting, ASH has filed a formal legal petition demanding that it be regulated by the FDA.
Want to Sit Next to This Guy?
If you don’t want people sitting next to you – in a waiting room, restaurant, bar, or any other area where smoking is now prohibited – using one of these devices to get around smoking bans, and forcing you and your loved ones to inhale deadly nicotine – please help now!
You can help by writing or making a FREE telephone call to the FDA to tell them you want e-cigarettes regulated now to protect both smokers and nonsmokers:
Food and Drug Administration
10903 New Hampshire Ave
Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002
You can also make the same request online by going to:
and clicking on:
TOPIC => Medical Devices, Radiation-Emitting Products.
BELOW IS THE COVER PAGE FROM ASH'S FDA PETITION
SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT
I. The FDA has long asserted jurisdiction over nicotine as a “drug,” and over devices which deliver nicotine as “nicotine delivery devices” – e.g., gum, patches, and so-called “smokeless cigarettes.”
II. Indeed, it successfully asserted jurisdiction over a remarkably similar device known as “Flavor,” which was also a white tube containing nicotine which looked very much like a cigarette.
III. The only challenge to the FDA’s jurisdiction over nicotine was the Brown case, but that holding was very clearly limited to “tobacco products,” and especially to normal cigarettes defined by federal law as containing tobacco, which Congress has often regulated, and the decision does not apply in any way to tubes containing nicotine.
IV. Because claims related to health have been made both directly and by implication about the new product, it is clear that it is intended to "affect the structure or any function of the body of man” and is therefore a “drug” under the statutory definition.
V. Having been put on notice by the wide-spread publicity about the product, a failure to even formally assert jurisdiction could stymy the FDA’s power in the future by legal arguments in the nature of estoppel, latches, lack of clean hands, and unfairness – especially if the agency’s failure to act were challenged in court.
VI. Any failure by the FDA to react decisively would also seriously undermine its credibility, and do so at a time when it has been widely criticized for failing to take decisive action regarding many other different products also clearly within its jurisdiction.
VII. Since nicotine is both a deadly and addictive drug, there is at least a reasonable probability that it could be causing harm both to the users – and to others in the vicinity – who inhale the vapor, and therefore the product should be appropriately regulated without further delay.
VIII. Even if the FDA holds that e-cigarettes’ harmful effects are outweighed by its benefits – as it has with nicotine gum and patches – the FDA may nevertheless find it appropriate to require health-related warnings, and/or limit its sales (e.g., to adults upon presentation of proof of age), etc.
For a copy of ASH's legal petition, click on: http://ash.org/ecigpetition
Third Hand Smoke Can Pose Serious Risks for Nonsmokers, Especially the Most Sensitive
Third hand smoke" – "the invisible yet toxic brew of gases and particles clinging to smokers' hair and clothing" [NY TIMES] – has been labeled in the medical journal Pediatrics as "toxic" and as a cancer risk to nonsmokers of all ages, especially to children of parents who smoke only outside the family home.Full Text from Pediatrics LINK
Fortunately, says ASH, the law provides protection against exposure to this substance, previously known simply as "tobacco smoke residue," which contains highly carcinogenic compounds, heavy metals, hydrogen cyanide (used in chemical weapons), butane (used in lighter fluid), toluene (in paint thinners), arsenic, lead, and even radioactive Polonium-210 (used to murder a Russian spy).
A federal court has held that an employee whose health is adversely affected by tobacco smoke residue has a cause of action under the Americans With Disabilities Act [ADA] against an employer who refused to reduce this exposure in his workplace.
Also, a complaint by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) recently forced a university to protect a woman and her unborn child whose health was threatened by tobacco smoke residue on the clothing of an office mate who smoked outdoors.
In the latter situation one doctor stated that "her sensitivity is also to the tobacco smoke residue on the person or clothing of a smoker, not just the smoke in the air. "
"Therefore, to protect her health, especially during her pregnancy, she should not be assigned to an office with someone who smokes during the work day.”
Another doctor said that "smoking and second hand smoke have known effects on the placenta that carries nourishment to the baby."
"Therefore, to protect her health and the health of her baby, she should not be assigned to an office with someone who smokes during the workday, even if that person doesn't smoke in that room.”
In addition to these two situations in which a nonsmoking man and woman (and her unborn child) were expressly protected from third hand smoke, several courts have recognized at least by implication the right of children to be protected from third hand smoke.
Among the judges in dozens of states which have issued court orders protecting children involved in custody disputes from smoking in the home, many have stipulated that there be no smoking 24 or even 48 hours before the child's expected arrival, thereby providing protection from third hand smoke.
In addition, in many of the states which now protect foster children from tobacco smoke, smoking is banned in the home even when the child is not present, another indication of the need to protect children from third hand as well as second hand tobacco smoke, says Banzhaf.
Indeed, says Banzhaf, who heads Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), as the dangers of tobacco smoke residue become more widely known, both judges and legislators are likely to extend to nonsmokers the same protections from third hand tobacco smoke the law now extends regarding tobacco smoke itself.
See "A New Cigarette Hazard" Third-Hand Smoke"
New York Times LINK
See "What is Third-Hand Smoke? Is It Hazardous?"
Scientific American LINK
ASH's Legal Letter Attacking Third Hand Smoke in an Office Setting http://ash.org/residueletter
Babies Absort Tobacco Smoke Residue at Home LINK
Children Exposed to Residues in Their Homes LINK
Test Can Help Detect Exposure to Residue in Home LINK
Smokers' Breath Can Be Harmful to Health, Especially to Children, the Elderly, and Those Especially Sensitive to Many Chemicals
"SMOKERS’ BREATH IS HARMFUL TO HEALTH."
That's the message from a new Australian study which showed that smokers who smoked only outdoors nevertheless emitted enough respirable suspended particles in their breath when they returned indoors to create air pollution which is "harmful" to children.
The study found that the chemicals in smokers’ breath were sufficient to cause or aggravate respiratory illnesses including asthma, coughs, and colds among children in smokers’ homes as compared with kids in homes with nonsmokers.
Respiratory illnesses were found to be much more prevalent in homes with smokers. Children exposed to higher air nicotine levels were three times more likely to have asthma or wheeze than those not exposed.
"This study suggests that society must go beyond merely protecting children from being in the presence of parents and others who smoke in their homes, and think about more effective measures to protect children from parents who smoke anywhere, " says ASH, which is leading the legal battle to protect children from tobacco smoke.
Judges in almost 75% of states have issued orders prohibiting smoking in homes to protect children involved in custody disputes.
But this study would permit the parent who obtained the order to go back and strengthen it, perhaps requiring the smoking parent to change clothing and use a mouthwash before the child visits, predicts ASH’s John Banzhaf, who has helped nonsmokers obtain some of these court orders.
The same thing could happen in the dozen states which already prohibit parents from smoking in homes where foster children reside.
Although the study only validated the harm to children, it did show that "harmful" levels of several known toxic chemicals are present in the air of homes where a smoker resides but smokes only outdoors.
Therefore it is reasonable to assume that particle air pollution from smokers’ breath inside homes or workplaces could also be harmful to workers with allergies or other special sensitivities, putting them at risk of asthmatic attacks which could even trigger a cardiac event.
Banzhaf notes that two legal actions attacking tobacco residues have already been successful. In the first it was held that the Americans With Disabilities Act [ADA] applied, and that the employer therefore had to make a reasonable accommodation to protect the nonsmoking employee from tobacco residues.
A second proceeding involved a woman who worked for a university which banned smoking in its offices, but did permit workers to go outside for a smoke.
Two doctors determined that the smoker's breath, and other tobacco residue from his clothing once he returned to the office, endangered the health of the woman as well as that of her unborn child. A formal complaint filed by Banzhaf resulted in immediate action to protect the woman.
"We've always known that a smoker's breath stinks. Now we know that it also creates indoor air pollution which can harm children and perhaps some adults."
See "Outdoor Smoking Affects Children Indoors": LINK
Abstract from Indoor Air: LINK
Action on Smoking and Health
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