Smokers not only damage their own health by directly inhaling cigarette smoke, they endanger others, including their loved ones through their tobacco smoke pollution.
Tobacco smoke pollution, also known as secondhand smoke, is the combination of smoke that comes from the burning end of a cigarette, cigar or pipe and the smoke exhaled by the smoker.
Secondhand smoke contains more than 50 substances that can cause cancer. Health effects of exposure to secondhand smoke include lung cancer, nasal sinus cancer, respiratory tract infections and heart disease.
There is no safe amount of secondhand smoke. Children, pregnant women, older people and people with heart or breathing problems are particularly vulnerable to its toxins.
Now, Maria Teresa Piccardo, Anna Stella and Federico Valerioin in a research paper published in BioMed Central's open access journal Environmental Health has shown that the smokers themselves are at additional risk from breathing environmental tobacco smoke, contrary to the prevailing assumption that such risks would be negligible in comparison to those incurred by actually smoking.
The researchers studied the exposure of 15 newsagents in
Newsagents were chosen because they work alone in small newsstands, meaning that any tobacco smoke in the air they breathe is strictly correlated to the number of cigarettes smoked by that newsagent.
The researchers found that environmental tobacco smoke may have a significant impact on smokers' health. For someone who smokes 14 cigarettes a day, their own second hand smoke resulted in exposure the equivalent of smoking an extra 2.6 cigarettes.
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1. Maria Teresa Piccardo, Anna Stella and Federico Valerio. Is the smokers exposure to environmental tobacco smoke negligible? Environmental Health, 2010; (in press)
2. Photo from