|UK News||Electronic Telegraph|
| Sunday 16 August 1998|| Issue 1178
|Passive smokers inhale six cigarettes a year
By Robert Matthews and Victoria Macdonald
PASSIVE smokers inhale the equivalent of just six cigarettes a year from other people's smoke, according to the largest ever study of actual exposure levels of non-smokers.
The figure, which undermines previous warnings about the dangers of passive smoking, is a thousand times lower than that faced by direct smokers, and so tiny that it could not be measured statistically. Results from personal air monitors carried by more that 1,000 people in cities across Europe reveal that even the most highly-exposed passive smoker inhales the equivalent of 0.02 of a cigarette a day - 10 times lower than Government-backed estimates.
The findings, published by an internationally respected UK-based team of air monitoring experts, are the biggest blow yet to the credibility of the Government's insistence that passive smoking causes fatal diseases. Until now, ministers have based calls for action on claims that those living with smokers face a 20 to 30 per cent increased risk of lung cancer.
The reliability of such claims has now been thrown into doubt by the measurements of real-life levels of cancer-causing substances inhaled by passive smokers. A team led by Dr Keith Phillips of Covance Laboratories, an independent consultancy in Harrogate, has found that even passive smokers who live and work with smokers are typically exposed to just 0.1 per cent of the dangerous components of cigarette smoke inhaled by smokers.
This suggests that passive smokers face a tiny excess lung cancer risk of around two per cent - 10 times lower than suggested by either the statistical evidence or estimates based on cotinine levels - a chemical linked to nicotine - in passive smokers.
Critics of the Government's stance on passive smoking will seize on these findings as proof that the risk estimates based on statistics and indirect chemical markers are unreliable.
Dr Phillips said he had encountered considerable reluctance by some scientists even to consider the new evidence. He said: "They try to dismiss it by arguing that our research receives support from . . . the tobacco industry. Our findings are completely independent of any influence from the industry."
4 August 1998: Girls say smoking is aid to staying slim
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