Tobacco Tidbits
UPdate spring 2005

Researchers in New Zealand recently concluded the largest ever study on mortality due to second hand smoke. The study found 15% more deaths in people who had never smoked but were exposed to secondhand smoke at home, compared with people who had never smoked who lived in a smoke-free household.

The study was based on census data from two different periods. Because of the unparalleled sample size of the study, the results strengthen the case that exposure to secondhand smoke leads to illness and death.

Surprisingly, few studies have examined the link between exposure to secondhand smoke and mortality. The results of the New Zealand study are consistent with the largest previous study of the subject. The study is summarized in the British Medical Journal, April 2004.

Ontario has announced one of the strongest smoking bans in Canada. As of May 2006, smoking will be banned in all public places and workplaces. The ban covers bars, casinos and legion halls and no longer allows “designated smoking rooms” except in long term care homes and hotel suites. It also bans “power display ads” for cigarettes in corner stores. Nova Scotia’s smoke free legislation allows smoking in bars after 9 pm, and in restaurants with enclosed and separately ventilated smoking areas. Ontario’s move is applauded by the Ontario Medical Association and the Lung Association. New Brunswick and Saskatchewan have also passed strong smoking bans, and Quebec has announced plans to do the same.

Tobacco interest groups are still attempting to cast doubt that second hand smoke exposure is harmful. The National Post recently ran an article by long time tobacco industry consultant John Luik. Luiskattacked Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Sheela Basrur for her “junk-science crusades against the alleged dangers of secondhand smoke...” Luik is co-author of a book called “Passive Smoke: The EPA’s Betrayal of Science and Policy’, in which the authors blame the Environmental Protection Agency for producing “junk science.”