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Environmental Tobacco Smoke and Lung Cancer
The Environmental Protection Agency firmly maintains that the bulk of the scientific evidence demonstrates that secondhand smoke -- environmental tobacco smoke, or "ETS" -- causes lung cancer and other significant health threats to children and adults. EPA's report ("Respiratory Health Effects of Passive Smoking: Lung Cancer and Other Disorders," EPA/600/6-90/006F) was peer-reviewed by 18 eminent, independent scientists who unanimously endorsed the study's methodology and conclusions. Since EPA's 1993 report which estimated the risks posed by ETS, numerous independent health studies have presented an impressive accumulating body of evidence that confirms and strengthens the EPA findings. It is widely accepted in the scientific and public health communities that secondhand smoke poses significant health risks to children and adults.
A U.S. District Court decision has vacated several chapters of the EPA document "Respiratory Health Effects of Passive Smoking: Lung Cancer and Other Disorders" that served as the basis for EPA's classification of secondhand smoke as a Group A carcinogen and estimates that ETS causes 3,000 lung cancer deaths in non-smokers each year. The ruling was largely based on procedural grounds. EPA is appealing this decision. None of the findings concerning the serious respiratory health effects of secondhand smoke in children were challenged.
EPA recommends that every organization dealing with children have a smoking policy that effectively protects children from exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.
EPA recommends that every company have a smoking policy that effectively protects nonsmokers from involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke. Many businesses and organizations already have smoking policies in place but these policies vary in their effectiveness.
Does your state or community have laws addressing smoking in public spaces? Many states have laws prohibiting smoking in public facilities such as schools, hospitals, airports, bus terminals, and other public buildings. Know the law. Take advantage of laws designed to protect you. Federal laws now prohibit smoking on all airline flights of six hours or less within the U.S. and on all interstate bus travel.
This is a difficult time to be a smoker. As the public becomes more aware that smoking is not only a hazard to you but also to others, nonsmokers are becoming more outspoken, and smokers are finding themselves a beleaguered group.
If you choose to smoke, here are some things you can do to help protect the people close to you:
More than two million people quit smoking every year, most of them on their own, without the aid of a program or medication. If you want to quit smoking, assistance is available. Smoking cessation programs can help. Your employer may offer programs, or ask your doctor for advice.
Indoor Air Quality Information Clearinghouse (IAQ INFO)
P.O.Box 37133, Washington, DC 20013-7133
1-800-438-4318, (703) 356-4020
(fax) (703) 356-5386 or e-mail: [email protected]
Office on Smoking and Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mail Stop K-50
4770 Buford Highway, N.E.
Atlanta, GA 30341-3724
National Cancer Institute
Building 31, Room 10A24
9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20892
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
P. O. Box 30105
Bethesda, MD 20824-0105
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
4676 Columbia Parkway
Cincinnati, OH 45226-1998
Created: April 2, 1997, Last Modified: February 16, 1999