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Environmental Tobacco Smoke Essay, Research Paper
Environmental Tobacco Smoke
November 25, 1996
Tobacco smoking has long been recognized as a major cause of death and
disease, responsible for an estimated 434,000 deaths per year in the United
States. After the Environmental Protection Agency and the Surgeon General
stated that cigarettes cause lung cancer there was a tremendous movement to make
cigarettes illegal. Now the debate is on environmental tobacco smoke also known
as secondhand smoke, passive smoking, and sidestream smoke. The worry is that
when non-smokers are exposed to secondhand smoke they face the same health
hazards as smokers.
Tobacco smoke contains more than forty known carcinogens. Sidestream
smoke carries these carcinogens into the air (Sussman 12). According to
scientific studies tobacco smoke contains four thousand chemicals, and at least
sixty are known to cause cancer. Carbon monoxide is the main gas in cigarette
smoke. This gas competes with oxygen for binding sites on red blood cells, and
results in depleting the body of oxygen (Q&A). Researchers studied 1,906 women
of which 653 developed lung cancer. Women married to smokers were thirty
percent more likely to develop lung cancer than those married to non-smokers
(LeMaistre 1). According to the Environmental Protection Agency a thirty
percent risk is only a small relative risk. The Environmental Protection Agency
released its report stating that environmental tobacco smoke is a human lung
carcinogen, responsible for approximately three thousand lung cancer deaths
annually in American non-smokers. Environmental tobacco smoke has been
classified as a Group A carcinogen, the highest ranking under the EPA’s
carcinogen assessment guidelines.
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