But if they smoke indoors, they inevitably inhale also an amount of pollutants present in their environmental tobacco smoke (ETS).
Several studies provide evidence of a causal association between passive smoking in non-smokers and lung cancer or ischemic heart disease. A previous study demonstrated that smokers were 21.2 times more ETS exposed, based on nicotine, than non-smokers.
Despite these results, only a few studies have examined the adverse effects of passive smoking exposure among active smokers. The low interest in studying the role of ETS on smoker health is probably due to the assumption that the added dose of toxic compounds to smokers from their own passive smoking is negligible, compared to the dose they voluntarily inhale by their cigarettes.
Now, research by Maria Teresa Piccardo who worked with a team of researchers from the National Cancer Research Institute, Italy has shown that they are at additional risk from breathing environmental tobacco smoke.
15 actively smoking 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.
According to Piccardo, "Both active and passive smoking contributions should always be considered in studies about health of active smokers."
Maria Teresa Piccardo, Anna Stella and Federico Valerio. Is the smokers exposure to environmental tobacco smoke negligible? Environmental Health, 2010, 9:5doi
BaP - Benzo[a]pyrene, C20H12, is a five-ring polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon whose metabolites are mutagenic and highly carcinogenic
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