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Report: Tobacco Industry Toys with Science on Secondhand Smoke

October 18, 2007

Richmond, VA – A new report in the journal "Circulation" says the tobacco industry is creating smokescreens with studies that link secondhand smoke to illness and death in nonsmokers. It says tobacco industry advocates minimize these facts, especially when health studies are mentioned in campaigns to establish smoke-free workplaces and public spaces.

Cathleen Grzesiek with American Heart Association in Virginia explains why it's time Virginians demand a safer environment for all.

"We know that almost 1,000 non-smoking Virginians die every year from exposure to secondhand smoke. This is a fact -- we shouldn't be debating it any longer."

A U.S. Surgeon General's report last year linked secondhand smoke exposure to an increased risk of coronary heart disease in nonsmokers. Virginia's Legislature is expected to take up a smoke-free workplace bill similar to the one that passed the Senate earlier this year.

Tobacco industry spokespeople argue there is no solid science linking secondhand smoke to physical harm. Grzesiek says 20 states have passed legislation creating smoke-free workplaces. According to Grzesiek, Virginia faces an added challenge because it is a major tobacco state where key cigarette companies are headquartered.

"The science is clear, and secondhand smoke causes deaths and disease in adults and children and is a serious public health concern that needs to be addressed."

The full study is in the medical journal "Circulation," available online at http://circ.ahajournals.org.

Deborah Smith/John Robinson, Public News Service - VA