Healthwatch: Secondhand Smoke

By: ABC News
By: ABC News

A study released Tuesday by the government says everyone exposed to the exhaled fumes stands to suffer.

The Surgeon General says "the debate is over." Secondhand smoke kills.

Whether in the workplace, a restaurant, or a home, the latest scientific evidence indicates there is no risk-free level of exposure to tobacco smoke. It found not even separate smoking sections adequately protect non-smokers.

"Breathing secondhand smoke for a short time can set the cancer process in motion," said U.S. Surgeon General, Richard Carmona.

The report concludes that heart disease patients involuntarily exposed to smoking see immediate adverse effects.

It also solidifies research about the consequences for infants and children, affirming that secondhand smoke exposure is a cause of sudden-infant death syndrome.

"Not mere statistics. They have a very tangible and devastating impact on very real people, our children, wives, husband, neighbors, friends, and co-workers," said Rear Admiral Kenneth Moritsugu, Deputy Surgeon General.

Tens of thousands of heart disease deaths and 3,000 lung cancer deaths every year are blamed on secondhand smoke exposure. The Surgeon General says they are preventable.

"Smoke-free environments are the only approach to protect non-smokers from the dangers," said Carmona.

This report will add substantial weight to the argument for further smoking bans in public spaces.

There are no federal laws banning smoking, but most states and cities have adopted some bans.

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