Secondhand Smoke Deadly

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Secondhand Smoke Deadly

June 27, 2006, Ottawa   - Twenty years after the first American Surgeon General's report on the dangers of secondhand smoke, its latest report issued today finds that secondhand smoke is even more dangerous than previously thought.  The new report, entitled The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Secondhand Smoke, confirms that secondhand smoke is responsible for at least 3,400 deaths each year in the US.

In Canada, second-hand smoke will kill 1,000 non-smokers this year - 300 lung cancer deaths and at least 700 deaths from coronary heart disease. This report from the top American public health official underscores the need for comprehensive laws to protect everyone from the dangers of secondhand smoke.  Earlier this year, The Lung Association launched a series of consultations to help develop a National Framework on Respiratory Health for Canada. "The fight to protect all Canadians from the danger of tobacco is a cornerstone of the proposed framework," said Nora Sobolov, President & CEO for The Lung Association.

Canadian facts:

  • Secondhand smoke exposure causes serious health problems in children, including higher risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), asthma, lung damage, ear infections, bronchitis and pneumonia. Children are twice as likely to smoke if their parents are smokers.
  • Although only 3 in 10 people report being exposed to second-hand smoke, 9 in 10 people have detectable levels in their bodies. (The test measures exposure that has occurred over the last three days.)
  • Secondhand smoke is a major source of indoor air pollution, and the greatest source of air particle pollution.
  • More than three times as many infants die from secondhand smoke-related Sudden Infant Death Syndrome as from child abuse or homicide.

Because children breathe faster than adults they are particularly vulnerable to environmental tobacco smoke. Parents who smoke increase the chances that their children will develop asthma by 200 to 400 per cent. Children are twice as likely to smoke if their parents are smokers.

Currently, five provinces and two territories have already passed strong smoke-free air laws, but the danger of secondhand smoke in the workplace remains a reality for Canadians in Alberta, PEI, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, B.C., and the Yukon. "Canada has signed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control but we still have lots of work ahead of us to help prevent diseases and death caused from smoking and secondhand smoke," added Ms. Sobolov.

"This report highlights the harmful consequences of exposing children to secondhand smoke. We need stronger partnership with all levels of government to develop public awareness campaigns," said Paul Thomey, VP Tobacco Control for The Lung Association.

The Lung Association is one of Canada' s oldest and most respected health charities.  Recognized as a leader in lung health, our mission is to improve and promote lung health through support programs, education, research, and advocacy. Key areas of focus include: outdoor and indoor air quality, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, smoking prevention and cessation, flu, and lung disease management.

For more information on smoking visit our website


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