State Board Designates Secondhand Smoke a Toxic Contaminant
The California Air Resources Board on Thursday unanimously voted to designate secondhand tobacco smoke as a "toxic air contaminant" after a study linked it with breast cancer in premenopausal women, among other diseases, the Sacramento Bee reports.
The designation requires the board to evaluate whether additional restrictions on smoking are needed to protect public health (Bowman, Sacramento Bee, 1/27). According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a team of state engineers, biologists and environmental health scientists will investigate "real-life situations" where smokers "blow smoke outside buildings, in parks, on beaches and at public events" (Kay, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/27).
Researchers are expected to report back to ARB in three years (Cavanaugh/Kleinbaum, Los Angeles Daily News, 1/26).
ARB's decision "is expected to revive legislative efforts" to ban smoking in cars when children are present and "bolster efforts to curb smoking in multifamily dwellings," the Bee reports (Sacramento Bee, 1/27).
However, ARB spokesperson Jerry Martin said the board might decide to take no action, adding, "Our authority is very limited indoors" (Wilson, Los Angeles Times, 1/27).
R.J. Reynolds spokesperson David Howard said no research supports the board's decision to classify secondhand smoke as an air pollutant (Thompson, AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/27).