The NC Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch seeks to eliminate North Carolinians’ exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS). SHS has been linked with health problems such as heart disease, heart attack, lung disease, lung cancer and some other cancers. Childhood exposure to SHS can lead to upper respiratory infections, decreased lung capacity, ear infections, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and even behavioral problems and learning difficulties. Pregnant women exposed to SHS have increased risk of delivering prematurely or having an infant die of SIDS.
Exposure to secondhand smoke is a preventable cause of significant illness and death. Policies to ban smoking indoors reduce exposure to secondhand smoke, can reduce the number of cigarettes smoked each day and increase the number of smokers who quit.
According to the Task Force on Community Preventive Services, which reviewed published studies on secondhand smoke policy, smoking bans and restrictions are effective in reducing exposure to secondhand smoke.
According to the Task Force’s Guide to Community Preventive Services, smoking bans prohibit smoking from indoor areas of public places and workplaces. Studies showed an average reduction in exposure to components of secondhand smoke of 72%.
The Surgeon General’s Report on Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke (2006)
The US Surgeon General released a report in 2006 called The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke which explains all the known health risks of SHS and states, “there is no known safe level of exposure to SHS.”
Major Conclusions of the Surgeon General's Report
2009 Institute of Medicine Report
The Institute of Medicine released a report in October, 2009, Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects: Making Sense of the Evidence. This report provides a comprehensive review of the science on the relationship between secondhand smoke exposure and heart attack. The report was requested by CDC, but the review was conducted independently by the Institute of Medicine.
Major Conclusions of the Institute of Medicine's Report
2009 International Agency for Research on Cancer Report
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) released a new report in September, 2009, entitled “Evaluating the Effectiveness of Smoke-free Policies” which concluded that smoking bans in public places are associated with a rapid and substantial reduction in heart attacks, and these benefits increase over time.