A California environmental agency has voted to classify tobacco smoke as a “toxic air contaminant.” This is a first-in-the-nation move that I hope will strengthen state regulations on cigarette smoke. The designation by California’s Air Resources Board on January 26th starts a process that could lead to further smoking bans in a state that has often led the nation in health and ecological regulation. John Froines, chairman of the Air Resources Board Scientific Review Panel, says:
I think there is no question that this puts California way ahead. To actually have the major air pollution agency in the state of California to list ETS (environmental tobacco smoke) as a toxic air contaminant is going to have immense impact, we think, in terms of public education around other states. It will clearly lead to regulatory changes within the state.
The panel’s 2005 study found that about 16% of all Californians smoked, but 56% of adults and 64% of adolescents were exposed to second-hand smoke. California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment estimates that as many as 5,500 non-smoking Californians die annually of heart disease related to second- hand smoke. They estimate further that as many as 1,100 die from second-hand smoke lung cancer cases. Scientific studies in recent years have warned about the health impact from second-hand smoke and linked the smoke to a wide array of ailments, including heart disease, lung cancer and other respiratory ailments, and breast cancer. The study found that “because the diseases are common and ETS exposure is frequent and widespread, the overall impact can be quite large.”
Source: Reuters News
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