Secondhand Smoke As A Workplace Problem
smoke is a mixture of the smoke given off by the burning end of a
cigarette, pipe, or cigar, and the smoke exhaled from the lungs of
smokers. This mixture contains more than 4,000 substances, more than 40
of which are known to cause cancer in humans or animals and many of
which are strong irritants. Secondhand smoke is also called
environmental tobacco smoke (ETS); exposure to secondhand smoke is
called involuntary smoking, or passive smoking.
smoke has been classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
as a known cause of lung cancer in humans (Group A carcinogen).
is estimated by EPA to cause approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths in
nonsmokers each year.
In 2000, 64.7%
of Missouri smokers thought that smoking should not be allowed at all in
indoor work areas.
More than one
third (34.5 percent) of Missouri adults reported that someone had smoked
cigarettes, cigars or pipes inside their home in the past 30 days.
Almost half of
Missouri’s middle school students report they live with someone that
smokes cigarettes and 94% of them believe that the smoke from someone
else’s cigarettes is harmful to them.
A recent study
reported workers in service occupations, lower income, less educated,
and blue-collar workers are exposed to higher rates of secondhand smoke.
The study also reported that certain racial/ethnic groups (e.g. Blacks,
American Indians) may be at higher risk of ETS exposure.
Smoke Affects Children
young children whose parents smoke are among the most seriously affected
by exposure to secondhand smoke, being at increased risk of lower
respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis. EPA
estimates that passive smoking is responsible for between 150,000 and
300,000 lower respiratory tract infections in infants and children under
18 months of age annually, resulting in between 7,500 and 15,000
hospitalizations each year.
lungs of young children are also affected by exposure to secondhand
smoke. Children exposed to secondhand smoke are also more likely to have
reduced lung function and symptoms of respiratory irritation like cough,
excess phlegm, and wheeze.
can lead to buildup of fluid in the middle ear, the most common cause of
hospitalization of children for an operation.
Asthmatic children are especially at risk. EPA estimates that exposure
to secondhand smoke increases the number of episodes and severity of
symptoms in hundreds of thousands of asthmatic children. EPA estimates
that between 200,000 and 1,000,000 asthmatic children have their
condition made worse by exposure to secondhand smoke. Passive smoking
may also cause thousands of non-asthmatic children to develop the
condition each year.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Indoor Air – Secondhand
Smoke, “What you can do about secondhand smoke as a parent,
decision-makers, and building occupants.”
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, "Clearing
the Air: The Burden of Tobacco Use in Missouri," July 2002.
Brownson RC, Figgs LW, Caisley LE.; Epidemiology of
environmental tobacco smoke exposure.; Oncogene 2002 Oct