Researchers: Secondhand Smoke Threatens Millions in Public Housing

Americans who live in public housing are exposed to secondhand smoke from their neighbors, according to researchers who demonstrated how smoke from one apartment unit can infiltrate into others.

UPI reported June 19 that researchers Jonathan Winickoff of MassGeneral Hospital for Children and Michelle Mello of the Harvard School of Public Health stated, “Even if you are not a smoker and don’t smoke inside of your own apartment, if you have a neighbor who is smoking inside of his, the entire building is contaminated.”

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has encouraged public-housing authorities (PHAs) to ban smoking in at least some units, but only about 4 percent have done so.

“The use of federal regulatory or contractual mechanisms to ensure that PHAs implement no-smoking policies in public housing raises ethical concerns and practical challenges;” the authors concluded, “however, it is justified in light of the harms resulting from exposure to tobacco smoke, the lack of other avenues of legal redress for nonsmoking residents of public housing, and the languid pace at which PHAs have voluntarily implemented no-smoking policies.”

Smokers’ rights groups slammed the report, saying a ban would infringe upon the freedoms of public-housing residents, the New York Times reported June 18. “He wants us to believe we’re having an effect on people’s health through air ducts?” said Audrey Silk of the group NYC-CLASH, Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment. “These people have an agenda — a smoke-free society.”

The study appears in the June 17, 2010 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine

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Researchers: Secondhand Smoke Threatens Millions in Public Housing

Americans who live in public housing are exposed to secondhand smoke from their neighbors, according to researchers who demonstrated how smoke from one apartment unit can infiltrate into others.


UPI reported June 19 that researchers Jonathan Winickoff of MassGeneral Hospital for Children and Michelle Mello of the Harvard School of Public Health stated, “Even if you are not a smoker and don't smoke inside of your own apartment, if you have a neighbor who is smoking inside of his, the entire building is contaminated.”


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has encouraged public-housing authorities (PHAs) to ban smoking in at least some units, but only about 4 percent have done so.


“The use of federal regulatory or contractual mechanisms to ensure that PHAs implement no-smoking policies in public housing raises ethical concerns and practical challenges;” the authors concluded, “however, it is justified in light of the harms resulting from exposure to tobacco smoke, the lack of other avenues of legal redress for nonsmoking residents of public housing, and the languid pace at which PHAs have voluntarily implemented no-smoking policies.”


Smokers' rights groups slammed the report, saying a ban would infringe upon the freedoms of public-housing residents, the New York Times reported June 18. “He wants us to believe we're having an effect on people's health through air ducts?” said Audrey Silk of the group NYC-CLASH, Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment. “These people have an agenda — a smoke-free society.”

The study appears in the June 17, 2010 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine

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Researchers: Secondhand Smoke Kills

A group of international experts — reviewing 50 previous studies on smoking — has concluded that secondhand tobacco smoke definitely causes cancer, the BBC reported June 19.

A working group from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the World Health Organization (WHO), concluded that exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke increases the risk of developing cancers of the lung, uterus, cervix, liver, and kidneys.

Sir Richard Doll, another of the experts in the group, said, “Environmental tobacco smoke that people experience at work or at home is definitely a cause of lung cancer. That has been discussed for a long time but this is the first time a group of independent scientists have reviewed all the evidence and said there is no question it is a cause of lung cancer.”

“This is the first time that a global organization has concluded that exposure to second hand smoke is linked to cancer,” said Dr Kurt Straif, who organized the IARC meeting.

Doll said the findings should have a significant impact on health policies throughout the world and strengthen arguments for a ban on smoking in workplaces.

Marsha Williams of the anti-tobacco campaigning group Action on Smoking and Health agreed. “Passive smoking is quite clearly more than just the nuisance many of the world's tobacco companies would have us believe,” Williams said. “People are harmed and killed by it and it is time industry, government and smokers themselves woke up to this fact.”

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