Saturday, January 28, 2006

Cigarette smoke called poison by California agency

Agence France-Presse

SAN FRANCISCO -- Tobacco smoke was officially designated an airborne toxin in the US state of California on Thursday.

The state Air Resources Board (ARB) listed smoke from cigarettes, cigars, and pipes as a potentially deadly "Toxic Air Contaminant."

"The ARB's action rightfully puts second-hand tobacco smoke in the same category as the most toxic automotive and industrial air pollutants," said Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment director Joan Denton.

"Californians, especially parents, would not willingly fill their homes with motor vehicle exhaust, and they should feel the same way about tobacco smoke."

The decision was based on results of a report on the health effects of exposure to second-hand smoke, according to the board.

"This new report reaffirms many of the adverse health effects associated with ETS (environmental tobacco smoke), especially in children who live in homes where smoking occurs," said board chairman Robert Sawyer.

"It also raises new concerns about its effects on women. All this strongly supported the need for the Air Board to identify ETS as a serious health threat."

Tobacco smoke contains toxic air contaminants including benzene and arsenic, according to the board.

In California each year, tobacco smoke is responsible for the release into the environment of 40 tons (36 metric tons) of nicotine, 365 tons (331 metric tons) of respirable particulate matter, and 1,900 tons (1,724 metric tons) of carbon monoxide, the board indicated.

Clear links exist between exposure to tobacco smoke and health problems including cancer, heart disease, premature births, low birth-weight babies, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, according to the board

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