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U.S. Surgeon General Issues Report on Secondhand Smoke

Keeping indoors smoke-free is only way to protect non-smokers

TUESDAY, June 27 (HealthDay News) -- Secondhand smoke exposure increases non-smokers' heart disease and lung cancer risk and causes early death in non-smoking children and adults, according to a new scientific report issued June 27 by U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona, M.D.

Because no secondhand smoke exposure is risk-free, the only protection for non-smokers is eliminating indoor smoking, according to the report, The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke. Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal agencies authored the report.

"Eliminating smoking in indoor spaces fully protects non-smokers from exposure to secondhand smoke," the authors write. "Separating smokers from non-smokers, cleaning the air, and ventilating buildings cannot eliminate exposures of non-smokers to secondhand smoke."

Secondhand smoke contains many carcinogenic chemicals, immediately harms the cardiovascular system, and can cause sudden infant death syndrome and other problems in children, the report warns.

"The health effects of secondhand smoke are more pervasive than previously thought," Carmona said in a statement. "The scientific evidence is now indisputable: secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance. It is a serious health hazard that can lead to disease and premature death in children and non-smoking adults."

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