Int'l. Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)/WHO

World Health Organization (WHO)

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Monograph on Active and Passive Smoking

A monograph issued in 2002 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified secondhand smoke as a human carcinogen. The report, which reviewed all significant published evidence related to tobacco smoking and cancer, both active smoking and secondhand smoke exposure, estimated that nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke are 20 to 30 percent more likely to develop cancer. The IARC issued a press release about the findings and also posted summaries of the findings online.

This monograph superceded a report released in 1998 by the WHO, linking lung cancer to secondhand smoke exposure. Big Tobacco's local allies sometimes claim that this report concluded that secondhand smoke is not harmful. Nothing could be further from the truth. Internal tobacco industry documents reveal plans to manipulate the findings of the 1998 WHO report out of fear that the report could have a significant impact on public opinion and smokefree policy efforts.

The WHO issued a press release in 1998 informing the public that tobacco industry misinformation about WHO's position on secondhand smoke should not be believed.