Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Passive Smoking Comes under Fire in Federal Report

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Passive Smoking Comes under Fire in Federal Report

Article excerpt

TOBACCO smoke is now officially considered in the same category as benzene, mustard gas, arsenic, and asbestos.

William Reilly, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is scheduled today to release a report that concludes that secondhand cigarette smoke is a class A carcinogen, or cancer-causing substance. The EPA, which worked on the report for four years, is the first government agency to designate Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) as a known carcinogen. Other government reports have said ETS is a suspected carcinogen.

Anti-smoking groups hope the EPA report, entitled "Respiratory Health Effects of Passive Smoking," will have a greater impact than earlier reports about the dangers of smoking. "We're looking forward to a lot of action at the state houses, where, hopefully, states will expand indoor-air-pollution laws or put them on the books," says Fran Du Melle, deputy managing director of the American Lung Association.

EPA officials say they believe the report may result in smoking prohibitions in the workplace as businesses try to avoid future liability lawsuits. The report could also affect insurance coverage for companies that allow smoking.

A draft of the EPA report circulated in May estimated that about 63 million United States nonsmokers, aged 18 or above, involuntarily inhale tobacco smoke. The final report estimates there are about 3,000 nonsmoker deaths per year attributable to cigarette smoke. The main sources were studies on the health effects of smoking on nonsmoking spouses, cohorts, or children.

The final report will provide anti-smoking groups with ammunition to press for clean-indoor-air legislation, which would include a ban on smoking in the workplace. In fact, the Coalition on Smoking OR Health held a press conference yesterday and included such a ban as part of the agenda it will recommend to Congress and President-elect Clinton.

THE Tobacco Institute, the lobbying arm of the industry, attacked the methodology of the report in an attempt to discredit the conclusions. …

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