Promoting a tobacco free society

Health effects of Environmental Tobacco Smoke

Health effects of Environmental Tobacco Smoke

On 30 January 2003, the report The Health Effects of Environmental Tobacco Smoke in the Workplace was published by the Office of Tobacco Control (OTC) and the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).

The research report was drawn up by an independent group of scientists.

The scientists’ brief was to “identify and report on the degree of consensus that exists among leading international scientific authorities on the question of the hazard and risk posed by environmental tobacco smoke to human health in the workplace”.

The group of scientists concluded that there is consensus among the international scientific community that second-hand smoke in the workplace increases the risk of lung cancer among non-smokers by between 20% and 30% and that involuntary smoking increases the risk of heart disease in non-smokers by between 25% and 30%.

The scientists also said that because heart disease is the most common cause of death in Ireland and a major cause of premature death, the increased risk of the disease due to second-hand smoke will have a serious impact on public health in this country.

Based on the international scientific evidence, the group found that where workplace smoking is permitted, employee exposure to second-hand smoke is likely to be higher and more sustained than in other environments. 

The scientists point out that bar staff and other hospitality workers are a unique group in that their workplaces constitute extreme second-hand smoke exposure settings.  Indeed, the group concluded that in premises that restricted customer smoking to certain areas, average exposure for staff to second-hand smoke was reduced, but exposure remained far higher than in smoke-free premises.

In the video below Maurice Mulcahy, Principal Environmental Health Officer, Galway discusses the harmful effects of Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) and shows an experiment on how ETS migrates in the home. (Courtesy of Eco-Eye)
 



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