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Where there's smoke....

Airborne cigarette smoke should be designated a "known human carcinogen," according to an Environmental Protection Agency report now undergoing review by the agency's Science Advisory Board. The draft report attributes some 3,000 lung cancer deaths among US. nonsmokers each year to the breathing of air contaminated with smoke from other people's cigarettes.

Though many companies have restricted where their employees may smoke, in an effort to safeguard the health of nonsmoking co-workers, that may not be sufficient, suggests a study reported in the Aug. 12 Journal of the American Medical Association. The study indicates that among the 7,162 nonsmoking Californians surveyed, those employed by companies with a work-area ban on smoking were almost three times as likely to be exposed to workplace tobacco smoke as those whose companies banned indoor smoking altogether.

Companies with limited policies on workplace smoking - such as regional bans on smoking that do not include the work area - provided little more protection to nonsmokers than companies having no smoking policy at all. In both settings, nonsmokers were about eight times as likely to inhale tobacco smoke as those in companies maintaining a smoke-free policy

Among nonsmokers, it appears that Hispanics, employees 18 to 24 years old, and adults lacking a high school diploma face an especially high risk of encountering workplace tobacco smoke. For companies "in which the employees are likely to be in these [elevated-risk] groups, high priority should be given to establishing ordinances mandating smoke-free work sites," conclude Ron Borland of the Center for Behavioral Research in Cancer in Melbourne, Australia, and his colleagues.
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Title Annotation:cigarette smoke
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Aug 22, 1992
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