PRESS RELEASE: Cal EPA Report on Secondhand Smoke

Contact: Cynthia Hallett
Phone: 510/841-3045

Landmark California EPA Report Confirms Dangers of Secondhand Smoke
New findings should spur more smokefree protections

BERKELEY, Calif. (September 29, 2005) A new report from the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal-EPA) on the health effects of secondhand smoke is now available on the web at . The report, “Proposed Identification of Environmental Tobacco Smoke as a Toxic Air Contaminant,” confirms and expands the science on the hazards of environmental tobacco smoke (also known as secondhand smoke) exposure in both adults and children.

“We are delighted that the Cal-EPA is once again taking the lead reporting on the effects of secondhand smoke,” said Cynthia Hallett, Executive Director of Americans for Nonsmokers Rights (ANR). “This is the most comprehensive report to date on this leading, but completely preventable, health hazard. This study should serve as an urgent wake-up call to employers, cities, and states that have not yet taken steps to protect workers and the public from this highly toxic substance.”

New findings in the Cal-EPA report, Part B, include: a causal link between secondhand smoke exposure and pre-term delivery; asthma induction in adults; breast cancer in younger, primarily premenopausal women; and altered vascular properties. Part A of the report contains the first ever outdoor monitoring of secondhand smoke exposure near designated smoking areas in California. The report has gone through an extensive, four-year scientific review process, including public comment and an independent peer review.

The Cal-EPA has always been ahead of the curve on reporting the effects of secondhand smoke exposure. In the 1990s, it was the first major scientific agency to confirm a causal relationship between exposure to secondhand smoke and cardiovascular disease. The agency’s 1997 report on secondhand smoke was adopted by the federal government in the National Cancer Institute Monograph 10.

“Since the nonsmokers’ rights movement began nearly 30 years ago, more than 400 municipalities in the U.S. have enacted smokefree workplace, restaurant, and/or bar laws,” added Hallett. “These new Cal-EPA findings offer more than enough scientific evidence to support the need for passage of these laws in all localities.”

Local and statewide smokefree workplace laws are now in effect for approximately 36% of the U.S. population, leaving another 64% still unprotected from exposure to a known carcinogen. People working in or visiting in smoke-filled hospitality settings like casinos, bars, and restaurants are especially at risk.

Other recent studies in Montana and Ohio have linked smokefree workplace laws with immediate reductions in heart attack rates, while research from New York, Boston, Delaware, and other places has demonstrated the immediate improvement in worker health and indoor air quality that comes with the implementation of smokefree workplace laws.

ANR expects the national trend toward smokefree air to continue moving swiftly in light of the mountain of scientific evidence identifying the dangers of secondhand smoke and the success of smokefree air laws that have already been enacted in the U.S. and internationally. “Casino dealers, musicians, bartenders, and waitresses need to breathe just like everyone else. Their jobs should not be a death sentence,” Hallett concluded.

Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights is a national, member-based, not-for-profit organization
based in Berkeley, CA dedicated to helping nonsmokers breathe smokefree air in
enclosed public places and workplaces.

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Read the ARB press release on the findings.

Read the American Legacy press release on the findings.

Read the PAHO statement on the findings.