Monthly Archives: February 2010

SHS harm denier claims “H2O is the main component of tobacco smoke ..”

The following comment was submitted by harleyrider1978, repealthebans@yahoo.com, on 2010/01/24 at 5:01 pm. I’m allowing it so that I can address a blatant distortion in it, even though harleyrider1978 hasn’t yet identified himself to me, even privately, as requested.

I reproduce the entire comment but I want to focus on one assertion to emphasize how SHS harm deniers play fast and loose with the facts.

I would truly like to see just one anti-smoking site post the true chemical composition of second hand smoke/environmental smoke rather than just the 3% that contains those supposed 4000 chemicals you so proudly claim everywhere at all the other smoke free websites….simply put H2O is the main component of tobacco smoke at over 90%.
You might also show the toxicology comparisons of those nanograms and femptograms that osha did to show just how insignificant shs/ets truly is.

After receiving the above dismissive comment I checked the 679 page U.S. Surgeon General’s 1989 Report Reducing the Health Consequences of Smoking: 25 Years Of Progress.

Chapter 2, from pages 33 – 169, is titled Advances in Knowledge of the Health Consequences of Smoking, and on page 79 is a section The Physicochemical Nature of Tobacco, dealing with the actual chemical makeup of the constituents in both mainstream smoke inhaled by the smoker and the sidestream smoke (SHS) inhaled by the exposed nonsmoker.

It notes: “Today, the estimated number of known compounds in tobacco smoke exceeds 4,000, including some that are pharmacologically active, toxic, mutagenic, and carcinogenic (US DHEW 1979; US DHHS 1983).

On the following page is a detailed figure showing the composition of cigarette mainstream smoke, i.e. that inhaled by the smoker, reproduced below (please click the figure to enlarge). The figure shows four vertical bars, the second vertical bar representing the main chemical constituents of MS smoke, labelled WHOLE SMOKE, dominated by N2 (nitrogen) ~62% by weight, and O2 (oxygen) ~13% by weight.

Mainstream smoke composition, U.S. Surgeon General's Report, 1989, Fig. 13, page 80.
Click figure above to enlarge.

The 4.5% at the top of this symbolic cigarette is in the “TPM (Wet)” category, the main components of which are shown in the first vertical bar. Of that 4.5% only about 16% is WATER (H2O), i.e. only about 0.7% of the total.
The main constituents in the “VAPOR PHASE,” which constitutes 13.5% of the total, is shown in the third vertical bar. Only 10% of that is H2O by weight, i.e. about 1.35% of the total is water. So according to this analysis the amount of H2O in the mainstream smoke inhaled by a smoker is only about 2% TOTAL (0.7% Wet + 1.35% Vapor Phase), and NOT the “over 90%” alleged by harleyrider1978.

If I’m wrong, please correct me. If I’m right, harleyrider1978 owes me an apology (and an ID).

Addenda Feb. 28, 2010:

Just to address the issue of 4,000 chemicals which have been identified in tobacco smoke. The number of those which are human carcinogens has grown over the years as evidence on them has accumulated. For example, the following relevant section can be found on page 8 of National Toxicology Program Final Report on Carcinogens – Environmental Tobacco Smoke, December 2 – 3, 1998:

One half, or more (by weight), of the smoke generated by a lit cigarette is SS emitted from the smoldering cigarette (U.S. EPA 1992). SS and MS contain many of the same chemical constituents because they originate from similar processes. ETS contains more than 4,000 chemicals. Among these, at least 200 are toxic and 43 were known carcinogens as identified in the 1992 EPA review. Approximately 400 compounds have been quantified in both MS and SS smoke. Although many constituents of MS and SS are the same, their emission rates vary as shown in Table 1-1 (U.S. EPA 1992).

In the most recent USSG Report on SHS, released in 2006, is the following on page 12 of the pdf Report :

Chapter 2. Toxicology of Secondhand Smoke Evidence of Carcinogenic Effects from Secondhand Smoke Exposure
1. More than 50 carcinogens have been identified in sidestream and secondhand smoke.

Table 2.1 of the Report on pages 31-32 lists over 30 of them, starting with Acrylonitrile and ending with radioactive Polonium-210:

8 Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
8 N-Nitrosamines
3 Aromatic amines
2 Aldehydes
5 Miscellaneous organics, and
6 Inorganic compounds

Just the facts, ma’am!

Kansas Watchdog.org is a pro-smoking web page which I recently checked out for the first time. The specific article of interest is Smoking Ban Advocate Says Some Claims Just Smoke by Paul Soutar, posted on February 20, 2010. It’s a well-prepared article featuring video testimony given during a recent hearing by supporters of a Kansas statewide smoke-free air bill, which reportedly has just received final approval.

MoGASP: Please see comment below from Paul Soutar for correction that KansasWatchdog.org is NOT a pro-smoking blog.

Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips

In the video, Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips, Health Director and Kansas State Health Officer appointed early last year, quotes from a study released in September 2009 by the Kansas University Medical Center. He stated: “Communities that pass a strong (smoke-free air) law see their heart attack rate decline by 17% in just the first year.”

Seventeen percent is wrong: the number has since been corrected by the authors, Dr. David Meyers et al, to 8%, which is apparently in the normal range seen in communities without any such laws in effect.

To back up his claim of erroneous testimony, Paul Soutar quotes Dr. Michael Siegel’s criticism in his blog titled Error Disclosed in Meta-Analysis of Smoking Bans’ Effect on Heart Attacks: Will Anti-Smoking Groups Report the Error? published December 16, 2009. The criticisms made by Dr. Siegel appear to be valid, and show why it’s critically important for smoke-free air advocates to ensure that their data is solid.

A report by the Institute of Medicine committee released last October, titled Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects: Making Sense of the Evidence, received widespread coverage and was quoted by some in St. Louis to support Proposition N. I decided against following suit after reading persuasive criticism of the report by Dr. Siegel on his blog, posted October 21, 2009. There is already so much damning evidence against SHS that we absolutely don’t need to use any even remotely questionable data.

Paul Soutar’s blog is followed by a number of comments from pro-smoking activists. One of them, called “Pam,” who writes extensively and has had comments accepted on the mogasp blog, included the following:

THIS study says if you quit smoking you have a 80%-90% chance of developing Type 2 Diabetes. http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/01/04/diabetes.smoking.risks/index.html

I checked out the above link and found a rather different message conveyed by the authors of this study, thanks to what Pam had omitted to quote:
“People who quit smoking are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes after they kick the habit, most likely due to post-quitting weight gain, a new study has found.
Experts caution, however, that the benefits of quitting smoking — including a lower risk of heart attack and lung cancer — far outweigh the risk of developing diabetes, which can be treated with diet, exercise, and medication.
[Emphasis added.]

Just another example of deliberately skewing the data to suit an agenda. I submitted a response which concluded:

What U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Koop, stated in 1986 still holds true today:

Nonsmokers should be protected from secondhand smoke, and smokers should be helped to quit.

Martin Pion, President, Missouri GASP
http://www.mogasp.wordpress.com

Missouri Smoke-Free Air Act, SB904, got a senate committee hearing on 2/22/2010

Sen. Joan Bray
D-St. Louis County

State Senator Joan Bray (D-St. Louis) had an unexpected hearing into her comprehensive Missouri Smoke-Free Air Act, SB 904, on Monday night, February 22, 2010, after a time slot opened up in a committee.

The hearing took place before the Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, chaired by Senator Matt Bartle (R-Jackson County), in the State Capitol in Jefferson City.

It was reported by KMOX Radio and KOMU (University of Missouri-Columbia, School of Journalism) with stories from both published on-line (please see below). Both reporters noted the absence of any opposition speakers during public comments on the bill, when fourteen people testified.

This has led one of the most vocal opponents of smoke-free air laws, Bill Hannegan of KEEP ST. LOUIS FREE, to cry foul. In an e-mail to me he claimed that it wasn’t fair that opponents weren’t alerted to the hearing but supporters were. In one e-mail he wrote:

“The fact that no one from our side across the entire state showed up makes it clear we did not know. I am going to formally request another hearing so the opposition has a chance to speak. This really stinks.

Bill Hannegan”

My e-mailed advice to Bill, which he subsequently accepted, was that he needed to communicate any objections he has to the bill to the committee chair, Sen. Matt Bartle.

There is no question that this effort is now picking up steam, but there are plenty of major hurdles ahead. The tobacco industry remains a major foe in the state capitol, with literally “money to burn,” and money talks at the state and federal level: there’s plenty of evidence for that!

Below are the two stories which are posted on-line. Note that in the first story, KMOX Radio reporter Emily Coleman writes:

“The state ban would supersede any city bans.”

This is not strictly true. If the state law includes wording specifically allowing stronger local ordinances – and it is important that it does contain this clause – then stronger language at the local level will prevail without any possibility for a legal challenge, even an unsuccessful one, as happened last year with the current Missouri Clean Indoor Air Act which lacks such specific wording. In fact, this bill does contain this wording:

191.1230 – 2. Nothing in sections 191.1200 to 191.1230 shall prohibit a political subdivision of this state or a local board of education from enacting more stringent ordinances or rules.

The current text of SB904 (Senate Bill 904) can be found here.

Statewide smoking ban hears no opposition in Jeff. City

Emily Coleman Reporting
kmoxnews@kmox.com
Posted: Monday, 22 February 2010 9:49PM

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Jefferson City Bureau) — No opposition came before the Senate Judiciary Committee to protest a proposed statewide smoking ban Monday evening.

The bill would prohibit smoking in public places, including restaurants, shopping malls and sports arenas. It is more comprehensive than the smoking ban that was passed in St. Louis City and County, which exempted casinos and bars where food sales are less than 25 percent of overall sales.

The state ban would supersede any city bans.

“Secondhand smoke is a toxin,” said Jason Sharp, Phelps County Regional Medical Center’s director of radiation oncology.

He was one of many who pushed the negative effects of secondhand smoke at the hearing.

Sen. Matt Bartle
R-Jackson County

Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Jackson County, who chairs the committee, asked if eating French fries should also be banned because it negatively impacts taxpayers who have to pay for Medicaid costs related to obesity.

“Because that’s the slope were on,” he said, adding, however, that he is inclined to support the bill because he finds smoking offensive.

Other proponents of the bill also pointed to increased Medicaid and Medicare costs related to diseases caused by smoking and the minimization of social smoking to those trying to quit.

Copyright KMOX Radio
Filed Under : Jefferson City, smoking ban

Smoking Ban Picking Up Heat
Reported by: Alex Rozier
Posted by: Mark Kelly
Published: Monday, February 22, 2010 at 9:49 PM
Last Updated: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 at 5:44 AM

Cigarette in ashtray

Statewide smoking ban considered.

JEFFERSON CITY – For the first time this legislative session, a Senate Committee discussed a potential statewide smoking ban.

For the past three years, Jim Green’s sat in the same booth, in the same corner, at the same place.

George’s Pizza and Steakhouse is located off the Lake of the Woods exit just outside Columbia’s city limits. All of Columbia is non-smoking, but because George’s is just outside, smokers can gather. Jim Green’s smoked for 55 years, and he’s completely fine with that.

“If I want to smoke, I can sit here and smoke,” Green said.

But if Senator Joan Bray gets her way, Green’s plans may soon have to change.

34 states and nearly 70% of Americans are covered by smoking bans.

“When these go to the vote of the people, folks want it,” Bray said.

However, not everyone agrees.

Charles Clayton is the owner of the Turtle Club Bar and Grill in Ashland, and he said he is completely opposed.

“I think it’s an infringement on our freedom to operate our business. I think if the government wants to impose restrictions on our business, our customer base, then they should pay our bills,” Clayton said.

However, Jason Sharp of Phelps County Medical Center said he disagrees.

“This is not about business rights, it’s not about whether it’s right or wrong. It’s about the health of the people affected,” Sharp said.

Some of Missouri’s largest cities already have bans in place, including Columbia, Saint Louis, and Kansas City.

“Maybe it’s a good idea to have non-smoking restaurants, but why not have a few that smoke,” Larry Kerr of Columbia said.

The hearing took nearly an hour and fourteen people testified. All fourteen testified in favor of the ban.

If the ban were to pass, smoking would be prohibited in all public places, and fines would range from 50 to 500 dollars.

W-K Times Letter 2/18/10: “Smoke Free: The Right Thing”

The following letter in support of smoke-free air was accepted by the Webster-Kirkwood Times, February 19, 2010 Issue, and appears in the current on-line edition. It can be found by clicking the title below.

The letter I submitted earlier this month, in response to one from David Kuneman of Rock Hill, was not accepted for publication, but I’ve posted it on the mogasp blog here and it has attracted quite a lot of comments from SHS harm deniers.

Smoke Free: The Right Thing

As a bass player for the long-time St. Louis band, Serapis, we have found that performing in smokefree Kirkwood at the Highlands Brewing Company has had a positive impact on attendance at our show.

We have performed all over the metro area for years and on Jan. 22, we had the pleasure of performing at the Highlands just weeks after the Kirkwood smoking ban went into effect.

The number of positive comments I heard on the fact that the room was smoke free were significant. But then I noticed something else, a lot of the folks I was talking to were long-time fans that I had not seen for years, and a good number of them drove in from St. Charles to Kirkwood. They made the journey because the venue was smoke free.

To those who are afraid that a smoking ban will hurt business and cause establishments to lose customers consider this: you’ve already lost customers, you just don’t know it.

This experience is proof to me that there are many people who want to enjoy a night out, but have opted to stay home or do something else because they can’t handle the haze.

Kudos to Kirkwood (and Ballwin)! Fear not, you are doing the right thing.

Gene Carroll – Serapis
St. Charles
February 18, 2010

The continuing effort to undermine SHS evidence

Lilian in cap and gown

Preface to the following:

I posted a blog here last November in memory of my late sister, Lilian Williams, née Pion. Although a nonsmoker, she died of lung cancer shortly before her 58th birthday, and I’ve remained convinced ever since that it was due to her involuntary (and sometimes voluntary) exposure to secondhand smoke. This blog further reflects on that view.

I’ve received quite a few comments from Virgil Kleinhelter who, despite the name, is evidently writing from the U.K.

[Update: A MoGASP supporter subsequently sleuthed this and located a Mr. Virgil Kleinhelter in Fairdale, Ky, so delete my supposition above.]

I generally allowed them, but when a recent e-mail from him focused more on epithets and offensive remarks, I wrote back to Mr. Kleinhelter that his comments would no longer be allowed on this blog. Several e-mails later I received the following from him which, while rather dismissive of smoke-sensitive individuals because they merely “don’t like the smell” of SHS, nonetheless provided an interesting link to a recently published study in PubMed, which I believe is a reliable on-line source for peer-reviewed articles.

I was sufficiently intrigued to go on-line and check out the summary of the study, originally conducted by a researcher in Oslo, Norway. The conclusion I came to is entirely contrary to Mr. Kleinhelter’s. Please read the following, which kicks off with Mr. Kleinhelter’s comment, and let me have your considered opinions (sans epithets!):

Virgil Kleinhelter
74.129.250.175
2010/02/15 at 9:32am

When will it sink in that SHS is not the threat it is made out to be. It always goes back to, I don’t like the smell or some other feeble reason to control others.

The latest research into passive smoking. It has been discovered that mechanism that triggers lung cancer in non-smokers is quite different to that in smokers.

Therefore breathing in other peoples smoke will not ever give you lung cancer. “INTERPRETATION: Lung cancer in never-smokers should probably be regarded as a different disease-entity than smoking-induced lung cancer. This could impact prognosis as well as treatment.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19844277

Mr. Kleinhelter’s conclusion that “breathing in other peoples smoke will not ever give you lung cancer” is completely contrary to what has become accepted on the subject since at least the first U.S. Surgeon General’s Report, “The Health Consequences of Involuntary Smoking,” released in 1986. [Click on the title for the full report or here for the summary and conclusions in Chapter 1.] A major conclusion of that report was that there was a causal link between lung cancer and secondhand smoke exposure in healthy nonsmokers. The best estimate, which is currently 3,000 lung cancer deaths (LCDs) a year in the U.S., is about 20% of all nonsmoker LCDs each year.

Following is the entire abstract I found on-line of the paper referenced by Mr. Kleinhelter:

Lung cancer in smokers and never-smokers
[Article in Norwegian]
Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 2009 Sep 24;129(18):1859-62.

Helland A, Brustugun OT.

Onkologisk avdeling, Radiumhospitalet, Oslo universitetssykehus, Rikshospitalet, 0310 Oslo, Norway. aslaug.helland@radiumhospitalet.no

BACKGROUND: Lung cancer is the most frequent cancer-related cause of death for both sexes. Smoking is the cause of most cases, but estimates show that 15-20 % of cases in the western world are not associated with tobacco. Recent evidence – based on molecular and clinical studies – indicate that lung cancer in patients who have never smoked has certain characteristics that are different from those in patients who smoke. In this article we describe some of these characteristics.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: The present paper is based on literature identified through non-systematic searches in PubMed.

RESULTS: Lung cancer in never-smokers is estimated to be the seventh most frequent cancer type on a global basis. A number of molecular and clinical characteristics differ between lung cancer related to tobacco use and those not related to tobacco use. 62 % of lung cancers among never-smokers are adenocarcinomas and 18 % are squamous cell carcinomas, while corresponding numbers among patients who smoke are 19 % and 53 %. The K-Ras-gene is often mutated in tumours from smokers, but seldom in tumours from non-smokers; whereas the EGFR-gene is mutated in tumours from non-smokers, and not in smokers. Also, age and sex distribution, therapy response and prognosis are shown to differ between the groups.

INTERPRETATION: Lung cancer in never-smokers should probably be regarded as a different disease-entity than smoking-induced lung cancer. This could impact prognosis as well as treatment.

I just checked on my sister’s British death certificate – she died from inoperable, incurable lung cancer on November 11, 1988, shortly before her 58th birthday – and it notes the cause of death as follows:

1a. Carcinomatosis
1b. Squamous cell carcinoma of lung

Certified by D.Elsdon Myers M.B.

According to the research in this Norwegian paper, my sister died from the type of lung cancer that is more common among smokers, even though she never was a serious smoker herself. (When my sister was a young teacher I recall visiting her in her apartment and she would smoke after a meal without actively inhaling and never became addicted. But she was clearly not smoke-sensitive, because at least one of her good friends later in life, Harry Diamond, was a heavy smoker. I found that out when I met him at her funeral and he was puffing away at every opportunity.)

To me, rather than diminishing my belief that secondhand smoke was causally related to my sister’s premature death this study actually reinforces it.

Reminder: If you wish to submit a comment for publication please include your full name at the end of it. If you don’t wish it to be made public let me know and I’m willing to respect that but I won’t consider anything signed only using a first name or a pseudonym.

Dueling letters in Webster-Kirkwood Times

IMPORTANT NOTICE to those wishing to comment on this blog: You MUST provide your real identity. Anonymous submissions will be rejected. I’m tired of commenters hiding behind pseudonyms. In future, I’ll be more inclined to allow comments from those honest enough to provide their identities, whether pro or con, although I still reserve the right to edit or reject submissions. Plus, no epithets!

I was recently made aware of the following two dueling letters which appeared in recent consecutive editions of the weekly Webster-Kirkwood Times.

The first is from Jean Loemker, a Kirkwood resident who was very active in promoting the successful smoke-free air petition initiative, overwhelmingly approved at the polls last November.

The second is a rebuttal from David Kuneman of Rock Hill in St. Louis County, a retired pharmaceutical chemist who, before Bill Hannegan appeared on the scene, was the most vocal opponent of local smoke-free air efforts. He has posted extensively on The Smokers’ Club at http://kuneman.smokersclub.com/. According to his disclosure on that site:

“Dave Kuneman, who smokes, worked for 6 years in the 1980s as a research chemist for Seven-Up and still draws a small pension from that work. At the time of his employment Seven-Up was owned by Philip Morris.” He is described as a “noncompensated director of research of the Smokers’ Club Inc.”

Following these two letters is a response I submitted in support of smoke-free air efforts which as of today had not been accepted for publication.

Just some background on Jean Loemker. She is a health professional who was active in both efforts by Kirkwood residents to enact a comprehensive smoke-free air ordinance by ballot initiative. The first was in 2006 when a grass-roots group of local residents formed Citizens for a Smoke Free Kirkwood. After the city council, led by the late mayor, refused to adopt the proposed ordinance language, it went on the November 2006 ballot. It was defeated following a disinformation campaign by the city council which claimed the definition of smoking in the proposed ordinance was so broad it would even prohibit outdoor barbecues on the Fourth of July!

The second petition initiative in 2009, promoted by a new grass-roots group called HEALTHY AIR FOR KIRKWOOD, adopted a simpler definition for smoking and learned from the mistakes of the earlier effort. Again the city council refused to enact it by ordinance so it went to a vote of the people. But this time the result was far different, with it being approved by a whopping 2:1 majority at the polls last November. The ordinance went into effect on January 2, 2010, and garnered publicity from the local news media. [Please see earlier blogs, such as KTVI Fox2 News 1/2/2010: “Kirkwood Smoking Ban Takes Effect Saturday”]

Lawmakers Take Up State Ban

Missouri lawmakers will have a rare opportunity this session to save lives and improve the health of their constituents. They can do this by supporting the proposed changes to the “Clean Indoor Air Act,” otherwise known as HB 1766.

Representatives Walt Bivens (R) and Jill Schupp (D) introduced House Bill 1766 for the first reading in the Missouri Senate on Friday, Jan. 22. HB 1766 has strong bipartisan support with 20 sponsors from rural counties, as well as the Kansas City and the St. Louis metropolitan areas. HB 1766, if adopted by the Missouri legislature, would make Missouri the 42nd state in the nation to adopt a comprehensive smoke-free law, joining 71 percent of the U.S. population that has already adopted smoke-free workplace laws.

The CDC estimates that over 10,600 Missourians die each year from tobacco use and the harmful effects of second-hand smoke. The annual health care cost due to tobacco use in Missouri is a staggering $2,130,000,000. The proposed changes will be effective in protecting all workers and patrons from the health hazards of second-hand smoke.

Please extend a special thanks to our area representatives Jeanne Kirkton (D-Webster Groves) and Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood) for taking a leadership role in protecting the health and lives of all Missourians.

To read HB 1766 go to: http://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills101/biltxt/intro/HB1766I.htm.

Jean Loemker
Kirkwood
January 28, 2010

David Kuneman, testifying in Aug. 2009

Smoking Bans Hurts Area Bars, Restaurants

Jean Loemker, in her Jan. 29 letter seems under the impression that 41 states already have comprehensive smoke free laws. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, most recent state smoking bans have exemptions. For example, Pennsylvania and Florida exempt free-standing bars. New Jersey and Pennsylvania exempt some casino space, Oklahoma exempts walled off and separately ventilated restaurant space, many states exempt airport smoking lounges and the list goes on and on.

This is because it’s getting increasingly obvious that smoking bans do harm business, and the more the hospitality venue is associated with customer lingering, the worse the harm. The National Restaurant association found bans hurt table service restaurants, where customers linger for two or three hours, about 20 percent.

Kirkwood’s ban is comprehensive to the Nth degree. Customers are migrating to surrounding jurisdictions, and those jurisdictions will still be able to allow smoking in those establishments where bans hurt business most – even after the county ban kicks in next year.

Ban proponents promise no economic harm, then when a situation like Kirkwood’s develops, they claim surrounding areas must also have bans to “level the playing field.” If bans did not harm business, there would be no need to “level the playing field.” With such light turnout, voters who approved these bans may not be representative of those who spend the most money in the establishments which are most likely to suffer.

Even when a ban is statewide, U.S. Department of Commerce data show that the fraction of total retail sales that are bar and restaurant sales, is 8 percent lower in states with bans. Most restaurants operate on a 5 percent profit margin.

About 20 percent of our voters turned out when the bans were placed on the ballot and about 40 percent of those opposed the bans. This means about 8 percent of our total electorate oppose bans. That matches closely with the 8 percent lower bar and restaurant sales in states with bans.

Our country’s economic success over the last 200 years has been due to our ability to freely operate enterprises to maximize profit. Neither Kirkwood voters nor the state legislature should meddle with that.

David W. Kuneman
Rock Hill
February 04, 2010

My response, submitted to the Webster-Kirkwood Times on-line, has not been published at this point but is pasted below:

Missouri House Bill 1766, sponsored by Rep. Walt Bivens (R), is a strong smoke-free air bill with few exemptions, as noted by Jean Loemker, Kirkwood, in her Jan. 28 letter “Lawmakers Take Up State Ban.” If approved, it will replace the 1992 Missouri Clean Indoor Air Act, which has weak provisions [see on-line http://tinyurl.com/ybevhkj%5D but importantly, thanks in part to opposition from Missouri GASP, doesn’t contain a preemption clause sought by the tobacco lobby, thereby permitting stronger local ordinances. 

Mr. Kuneman, in his Feb. 4 letter “Smoking Bans Hurts Area Bars, Restaurants,” is wrong in stating that progress on implementing comprehensive smoke-free air protection is stalling because they harm business.

Both more states and more municipalities are adopting such comprehensive laws. Americans for Nonsmokers Rights (ANR) lists 18 such states (plus Puerto Rico), with Wisconsin and Michigan joining them later this year [on-line at http://www.no-smoke.org/pdf/WRBLawsMap.pdf].

ANR also lists 375 municipalities with comprehensive smoke-free air ordinances in all workplaces, including restaurants and bars. This includes Ballwin, Independence, Kansas City, Kirkwood, Lee’s Summit, Liberty, and North Kansas City.

Kirkwood’s ordinance went into effect Jan. 2, 2010, thanks to the efforts of Ms. Loemker and others in the grass-roots group, HEALTHY AIR FOR KIRKWOOD. In July, Clayton will follow.

The tobacco lobby initially opposed smoke-free air laws by arguing that secondhand smoke wasn’t harmful. When that was soundly debunked by successive U.S. Surgeon General’s Reports, starting in 1986, industry surrogates like Mr. Kuneman started arguing that it was bad for business, especially restaurants and bars.

Mr. Kuneman concludes his letter: “Our country’s economic success over the last 200 years has been due to our ability to freely operate enterprises to maximize profit.”

That ignores the enormous progress that has been made in protecting the health and safety of those working for private employers, thanks to countless health, sanitation, and building regulations, while private business has continued to thrive.

Why should secondhand smoke, a major air pollutant, which requires only “No Smoking” signage and ashtray removal to remedy, be off-limits to regulation?

P-D 2/9/2010: “Study: Indoor pollutant merges with tobacco residue”

The following report, just published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, focuses on the newest potential threat to non-smokers: “thirdhand smoke.”

I think there is some credence for the concern, although the primary focus must remain secondhand smoke.

Missouri GASP paid for independent nicotine monitor measurements to be done in a local Steak ‘n Shake before and after it went smoke-free in 2005. There was a rapid drop in nicotine vapor level after the restaurant went smoke-free, but interestingly, even two weeks later, it was still 15% of its level just prior to it going smoke-free.

This is attributed to the tobacco smoke tars which plate out on all the internal surfaces in the restaurant, including the air-conditioning ductwork. The long clearance time is exacerbated by modern AC systems which, for reasons of economy and energy efficiency, typically draw in no more than about 10% of makeup air from outdoors.

Study: Indoor pollutant merges with tobacco residue
By Suzanne Bohan
CONTRA COSTA TIMES
02/09/2010

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. — A common indoor air chemical reacts with residues of tobacco smoke clinging to clothing, skin and surfaces to form potent carcinogens, researchers at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory reported in a study published Monday.

A few years ago, researchers began paying closer attention to the potential health effects of “thirdhand smoke,” which is a thin layer of toxic substances from tobacco smoke that settles on surfaces long after cigarettes have been extinguished.

The Berkeley scientists, however, are the first to find that nitrous acid, an indoor air pollutant created by gas appliances, vehicle engines and tobacco smoke, reacts with nicotine found on surfaces.

“We want to make people aware that there’s a potential hazard from thirdhand smoke that has not been recognized before,” said Lara Gundel, one of the authors of the study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“This is a new finding that a common pollutant can react with nicotine to form carcinogens right in our own homes,” said Gundel, who works in the lab’s Indoor Environment Department.

The term “thirdhand smoke” was coined in 2009 in a study in the journal Pediatrics, which found that 65 percent of nonsmokers thought that the residue of tobacco smoke found on furniture and drapes, in rugs and dust, and on skin and clothing, can harm children and infants. Only 43 percent of smokers believed that it posed a health risk.

That study focused on earlier research analyzing the potential harms to children and infants from ingesting or breathing any of the 250 toxic substances found in tobacco smoke, such as lead. Research also found many children had detectable blood levels of cotinine, a chemical formed by exposure to nicotine.

But the Berkeley lab researchers also found that when nitrous acid in the air reacts with nicotine, tobacco-specific nitrosamines, or TSNAs, are created.

Unburned tobacco and tobacco smoke already contain TSNAs, which in1989 the U.S. Surgeon General listed among the carcinogens found in tobacco.

What’s new is how many more of them are created when nicotine reacts with nitrous acid. After exposing surfaces to tobacco smoke, the Lawrence Berkeley lab researchers found levels of TSNAs increased 10 times after exposure to nitrous acid.

The health hazards of tobacco smoking and secondhand smoke are well known, with research associating inhalation of the smoke with elevated risk of cancer and heart disease.

This thirdhand smoke, however, enters the body via a different route, either through skin exposure, dust inhalation and ingestion, and it poses an “unappreciated health risk,” the Berkeley researchers wrote. Children and infants are of particular concern, since they have far more exposure to contaminated surfaces, and with their smaller sizes would absorb proportionately more TSNAs than adults.

But the human health effects of thirdhand smoke haven’t been well-studied, and further work is needed to understand the extent of the threat they pose, Gundel said.

David Sutton, a spokesman with the Altria Group, parent company of Philip Morris USA, noted that no human exposure measurements were done as part of the Berkeley study.

“The study authors recommended more research on the topic,” he said. Sutton said that Altria does discourage adults from smoking when children are present.

Still, smoking outside does not eliminate exposure to TSNAs, since nicotine from smoke adheres to clothing and skin, and can be carried back inside. Nor does opening windows or using a fan help much, since nicotine, a sticky molecule, readily clings to surfaces.

As a precaution, Gundel advised replacing furniture and drapes that have been heavily exposed to nicotine, and she supports 100 percent smoke-free public places. And smoking inside vehicles also leaves behind nicotine on surfaces, she noted.

The Berkeley researchers plan to continue their studies on thirdhand smoke, assessing how long TSNAs can remain on surfaces, and seeking reliable biomarkers for studying the uptake of them into the body.

The study was sponsored by the University of California’s Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program.