June 1, 2007, Newsletter Issue #41: The Surgeon General Speaks Out On Air Quality

Tip of the Week

According to a June 27, 2006 statement made by U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona, second hand smoke is much more hazardous than many smokers care to admit. According to "The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke," there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke; the issue is still a major concern as nearly half of all American nonsmokers are exposed to tobacco smoke on a regular basis.

Healthy Air is getting harder to come by, especially in areas such as California and Montana, where seasonal forest fires create hazardous conditions; in San Antonio and Chicago, summertime temperature inversion brings a thick haze of smog and ozone action days. Many people resort to air purifiers and HEPA filters to combat these air pollutants. Second hand smoke exposure only aggravates the problem, and as the Surgeon General points out in the report, it is a completely avoidable problem.

The report does have some good news. “Our progress over the past 20 years in clearing the air of tobacco smoke is a major public health success story,” Surgeon General Carmona said. Second hand smoke statistics are improving, and the growing awareness of second hand smoke issues are helping to improve public air quality. Whether through legislation or voluntary compliance with EPA Healthy Air initiatives, many more people are breathing easier in public.

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