|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 26, 2006
|CONTACT: Cynthia Hallett
Statement of Cynthia Hallett, MPH
Executive Director, Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights
(SACRAMENTO, CA) - Today, the California Air Resources Board unanimously adopted a regulatory amendment identifying environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), also known as secondhand smoke, as a toxic air contaminant (TAC). A TAC is defined as an air pollutant which may cause or contribute to an increase in deaths or in serious illness, or which may pose a present or potential hazard to human health. The Cal-EPA will now prepare a risk reduction report on potential actions to further reduce exposure to secondhand smoke such as public education programs to increase awareness and understanding of exposure and health effects, as well as additional opportunities to reduce exposure.
The Cal-EPA has always been ahead of the curve on reporting the effects of
secondhand smoke exposure. In the 1990s, it was the first major scientific agency
to confirm a causal relationship between exposure to secondhand smoke and cardiovascular
disease. The agencys 1997 report on secondhand smoke was adopted by the federal
government in the National Cancer Institute Monograph 10.
In addition, the regulatory amendment specifies that there is not sufficient available scientific evidence to support the designation of a threshold exposure level to secondhand smoke below which no significant adverse health effects are anticipated.
This important decision will have a powerful impact on the health and well being of people around the world. The body of science on the negative health effects of secondhand exposure continues to grow, and these findings lend additional evidence that exposure to secondhand smoke causes death and disability in nonsmokers.
New findings in the Cal-EPA report, Part B, include: a causal link between secondhand smoke exposure and pre-term delivery; asthma induction in adults; breast cancer in younger, primarily premenopausal women; and altered vascular properties. Part A of the report contains the first ever outdoor monitoring of secondhand smoke exposure near designated smoking areas in California. The report has gone through an extensive, four-year scientific review process, including public comment and independent peer review.
The data should be a wake-up call to employers, legislators, and individuals who work or live in smoke-filled environments to support and pass smokefree policies and laws. These laws protect everyone from unnecessary and deadly exposure to secondhand smoke and encourage many people to quit smoking. Tobacco companies should be held accountable for decades of fraud for marketing and pushing a highly addictive substance that, when used as directed, harms both the person who smokes as well as the nonsmoker.
We look forward to the recognition and adoption of the Cal-EPA findings by the federal government, the Surgeon General, and other voluntary health groups.
Americans for Nonsmokers Rights is a national, member-based, not-for-profit organization based in Berkeley, CA dedicated to helping nonsmokers breathe smokefree air in enclosed public places and workplaces.