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August 20th, 2010
02:21 PM ET

Secondhand smoke, occasional cigarettes do harm

Sometimes it's hard to avoid being around family members who smoke at home or friends who light up at bars. But it's worth it.  Just a small amount of smoke can be detrimental to your health, a new study reports.

"Exposure to cigarette smoke is bad for you, and your lung cells know it, and those are the cells that are central to the disease," said Dr. Ronald Crystal at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Crystal and colleagues  took urine samples from 121 participants to see how much exposure people had to cigarette smoke, measuring nicotine and its breakdown products. This allowed them to classify participants as active smokers, nonsmokers, and people with low-level exposure.

Then, researchers took a small sample of cells lining participants' airways. These cells, called epithelial cells, are fundamental to the diseases of cigarette smoke, such as lung cancer.

They found that even extremely low levels of exposure to cigarette smoke produced detectable abnormal genetic activity in these cells. This included people who said they didn't smoke, and occasional smokers.

"Your lung cells are sort of like a canary crying out, and saying, 'I'm being stressed by cigarette smoke,' even at low-level cigarette smoke," Crystal said.

Scientists aren't yet sure whether these changes in genes are reversible. Other studies have shown that genes of active smokers may not go back to normal even after quitting. But Crystal speculates that the effects of secondhand smoke may be reversible if a person cuts off exposure to smoke entirely.

For those of you who want to quit entirely, don't try to stop thinking about cigarettes altogether, says a new study in Psychological Science.

Suppressing thoughts is a poor method of self-control, researchers say. They found that people who tried to block out thoughts of cigarettes ended up smoking more once they started thinking about it again.


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soundoff (279 Responses)
  1. VegasRage

    2nd hand smoke does harm? No sh**! Thanks for telling us what has been common knowledge for over 20 years.

    August 21, 2010 at 14:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. DaveC

    Thank you. Second-hand smoke has put me in ER.

    August 21, 2010 at 14:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. fred

    Pregnant women who smoke should be charged with child abuse.

    August 21, 2010 at 15:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • chuck

      along with adults who smoke with their children strapped helplessly in the back seat.

      August 21, 2010 at 16:19 | Report abuse |
  4. Peter

    I really wish that this harleyrider1978 poster would quit cutting and pasting bits and pieces of old big tobacco BS. If he actually left references or sources for what he posts everyone would see that they're all out of date and/or tobacco company funded statements or studies.

    August 21, 2010 at 17:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Angus

    Getting tired of hearing about second-hand smoke bull. The idiots who are unrelentless in their antismoking campaign get in their cars, fire up their engine and expell the equivilant of 2 full cigarette cartons of carbon dioxide and carbone monoxide along with benzene and other chemicals which will kill every living thing on the planet. That's not even counting the actual driving miles. If these hypocrites want fresh air, they better start on a grander scale and include themselves as part of the overall problem and stop singling out the people who smoke.

    August 21, 2010 at 18:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • chuck

      don't know if you can read or not, but the story is about SMOKING, not car emission. Stop trying to make excuses for your idiotic choice to smoke. Yes, you have a right to smoke, you don't have a right to pollute my breathing air. Why don't you reply to the actual story now instead of trying to defect it to another topic altogether!!

      August 21, 2010 at 19:04 | Report abuse |
    • fred

      It's the addiction that is speaking not the person.

      August 21, 2010 at 21:49 | Report abuse |
    • Swamprattler

      well chuck chuck, if you don't want smoke, then stay the hell away from it, go off to yourself and bury your goofy head in the sand

      August 22, 2010 at 14:38 | Report abuse |
  6. threefivelima

    "obese people do not influence the health of others"

    That's an ignorant load of B.S. Look at their children.....and their grandchildren.

    I can list 100 way the obese have an indirectly effect on others...

    August 21, 2010 at 21:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Annie

    Do you think that smoking will be allowed in the world of spirit? That's a world of love, so you may be out of luck

    August 21, 2010 at 21:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. PaulinMO

    Just follow the money. Good ol' doc Ronnie has to pay homage to his buddies in the drug industry:
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-04-22/-dead-as-doornail-gene-therapy-revival-spurs-hope-for-genzyme-pfizer.html
    Chantix, anyone? Perky Lisa, Jolly Herb, and Mommy Robin are back on TV, even though their in court for driving cessation victims to suicide.
    You sanctimonious anti smokers should be proud.

    August 21, 2010 at 22:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Sonya

    When I was just 19 and supporting myself, I worked for a large insurance company in Florida. At that time smoking in public places was still legal. As young, non-smoker, everyday I went to work knowing that I was going to get a headache, feel dizzy or worse. Because everyday I was exposed to cigarette smoke from the moment I walked in the door until the moment I left. My boss, who sat directly in front of me was a chain smoker. I tried using desk fans and I even bought her a smokeless ashtray but nothing worked to rid my airspace of her cigarette smoke. After about year or working there, I came down with a caugh and what I thought was a chest cold that wouldn't go away. After a month of caughing I finally saw my regular family physician who diagnosed me with a "walking pneumonia". He was very concerned that I was so sick at my age and asked me if I was a smoker. I told him that at work I was exposed to cigarette smoke for at least 8 hours per day. He seemed very concerned about my health. He gave me some prescriptions and eventually I got better, but it took several weeks. Later the same year the company moved to a new non-smoking building where finally I was able to breath clean air. On a sad note: Just prior to moving to the new building, my 53 year old, chain smoking boss died while at work of a massive heart attack. I watched as the ambulance drove her away. Her first grandchild had been born a few months earlier and her family was devasted. As for me, to this day I have suffered with frequent, upper resporatory infections in my chest and sinsuses. I blame the 2 years that I worked for that company, because of the constant cigarette exposure that I endured, for many of my health problems and I pray that I never get lung cancer as a result of it. SMOKERS: IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU! It's about everyone else's right to good health and the right to breath clean, fresh, smoke free air! Smoke yourself to death in the privacy of your own home, but keep non-smokers out of it. By-the-way, YOU SMOKERS REALLY, REALLY STINK! I can't smell your foul, smokey stench from 20 feet away. Pee Yew!

    August 21, 2010 at 23:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bob

      An intelligent person would have to wonder how many other substances cause "detectable abnormality" in human body cells. It does not amount to causation. Smoking = elevated risk of certain disease? Yes. Exposure to second hand smoke, never been established..unless you ignore all previously established scientific methodology. The way people swallow these garbage studies amazes me.

      August 22, 2010 at 08:41 | Report abuse |
  10. sjd

    @Chuck: I don't smoke, but your repeated insistence that anyone who does is an idiot is so utterly ridiculous that it requires a response. I don't know what your formal credentials are like, but if you had any sense of secular history whatsoever you would understand that even brilliant individuals often do self-destructive things. Churchill, for example, smoked (and it is generally accepted that he had a drinking problem too) but anyone suggesting he was an idiot is probably illiterate. The risks were already fairly well known at that time, by the way. (Review the literature before you bark back on that one.) Further, contemporary persons in his would-be peer group similarly indulge in smoking and, again, the label "idiot" would be absurd. Unless you're trolling intentionally, you would be well served to think through the issue in terms of addiction, social norms, etc., and drop the silly label.

    August 22, 2010 at 04:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • chuck

      wrong, just because someone may be a genius or have a really high iq does not excuse them from being an idiot. If you smoke, you are flat out an Idiot. I don't care who you are.

      August 22, 2010 at 13:51 | Report abuse |
    • sjd

      You, Sir, are in desperate need of an education. If you have paid for one, demand a refund. Take some courses at the local community college. Better yet, earn a graduate degree from Oxford, then return to speak with an educated adult. By the way, if you consult a standard dictionary you might be surprised to find that genius and idiot are mutually exclusive character qualities. I'll interpret that for you: a person cannot be both an idiot and a genius. The way a person behaves is something different from who he/she is.

      August 22, 2010 at 15:43 | Report abuse |
  11. Robert

    Wake up Smoking sucks but Fat people do harm you. We are all paying the price for higher health care costs because of Fat people.

    August 22, 2010 at 08:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Truth

    As long as they don't inflict it on others, smokers are quite welcome to clean out the gene pool by killing themselves in one of the most agonizing and horrifyingly slow deaths imaginable.

    August 22, 2010 at 09:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BillinSD

      Lung cancer is one of the swiftest cancers known...

      Ever wonder what the leading cause of death is for non-smokers?

      CANCER... Followed closely by heart disease. Same as for smokers.

      August 22, 2010 at 14:30 | Report abuse |
    • laurab68

      I've seen the pain from my aunt who died from throat cancer. As the tumor wound it's way up her throat cutting off her oxygen they had to put a metal tube down her throat to prevent the cancer from crushing her windpipe. It was a temporary measure which in the end cancer did take her life. Or how about watching my aunt go through 2 heart attacks and a stroke to only find out she had advanced lung cancer from smoking for 50 years. Watching her being unable to breathe and then succumb to it was heart wrenching, and anyone who is foolish enough to say they enjoy smoking....is this what you want for your future????? To be bedridden gasping for air that will not come because a tumor is now blocking your airway!! To go through rounds of chemo so you become bald, unbareably sick from the chemo (and by the way the chemo lasts for months and months) To waste away while the cancer or COPD take over, and this is the life you are choosing for yourself???!!! I've been there I've seen it and if I were a smoker, i'd quit and be bitchy for several months, but that is not how I want to go. Why do you?????

      August 23, 2010 at 13:41 | Report abuse |
    • Sasha

      Umm, you realize that no one who smokes is going to "clean out the gene pool" from smoking. People who SUPPOSEDLY die from smoking die well after the age of having kids.
      And I say SUPPOSEDLY because the death count is skewed. We all agree that people who don't smoke can get lung cancer, as well as people who do smoke can get lung cancer. Why is every person that died from lung cancer AND smoked, put down as a death from smoking? If they had never smoked, they still could have gotten lung cancer. You can't attribute every disease someone who smokes dies from as caused by smoking if non-smokers die from it too.
      And don't even get me started on "second hand smoke disease". LOAD OF BULL. If you've ever actually looked at the "studies", there was ONE. And that one study was thrown out of court for falsifying results in an attempt to ban smoking inside public places. The real results was that there was no difference between a person who had lived their whole life with someone who smoked inside, and a person who had never been around second hand smoke.
      I don't even smoke, but not because I think it's going to "kill me". I don't smoke because there are better things to spend my money on! I'm just sick of people relaying the same brainwashed lines over and over again without doing any of their own research. Just because second hand smokes annoys you doesn't mean it has been proven to harm you.

      March 4, 2013 at 12:58 | Report abuse |
  13. panola

    If President Obama smokes a cigarette before a press conference will it affect the health of TV viewers?

    August 22, 2010 at 10:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Josh

    I hate being around people who smoke. I can't wait for more research to come out showing the harmful effects of 2nd hand smoke.

    As for all the comments about morbidly obese people not hurting others – it hurts when they come in the hospital and require 10s of thousands of more dollars for their care just because of their weight. Often times its much more than that. Surgeries become complicated, their hospital stays are longer and they are more likely to have to come back in.

    It sucks to have to pay the bills for those who can't afford their healthcare when their habits of over-eating are the cause of so many of the problems they face.

    August 22, 2010 at 11:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. KD

    Pay attention to your body and you'll know what is or isn't good for you. Mine tells me that if I end up in a restaurant where smoking is permitted, I better head for the door or I'll soon "cough up a lung." I have never been a smoker but since my husband has been for years, I've been exposed to second-hand smoke consistently. In the past few years, my lungs have become so sensitive to it that the slightest exposure causes an immediate reaction. That has warranted a change in my husband's approach to smoking. He still smokes but is more discreet about it. I appreciate that he is being more considerate but I am very concerned about what cigarettes are doing to him. There was a major difference in his ability to breath and overall appearance when he quit for a while. (He was so much healthier looking.) The problem he was having with his sinuses disappeared and he quit coughing. But the addiction to tobacco is powerful and judgement is skewed because of it. It seems to me that quitting has become more difficult over the last decade or so. I suspect that the tobacco companies know exactly why that is. But while their executives are boarding luxurious private jets and enjoying the good life, those caught in their trap spend money they don't have and justify the use of a product that is proven to be "hazardous to your health."

    August 22, 2010 at 11:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. BillinSD

    Mme Jeanne Calment, who was listed as the world's oldest human whose birth date could be certified, died at 122. She had begun smoking as a young woman.

    At 117 she quit smoking (by that age she was just smoking two or three cigarettes per day because she was blind and was too proud to ask often for someone to light her cigarettes for her). But she resumed smoking when she was 118 because, as she said, not smoking made her miserable and she was too old to be made miserable.

    She also said to her doctor: "Once you've lived as long as me, only then can you tell me not to smoke." Good point! [USA Today, "Way to go, champ," 10/18/95].

    When Mme. Calment died at 122 in l997, the new longevity champ became 116-year-old Marie-Louise Meilleur, of Canada.

    Mme. Meilleur had chain-smoked all her adult life (as her grandson said, "She always had a cigarette dangling from her lips as she worked,"–AP, 8/15/97, reported in Miami Herald, p. 2A). She did give up smoking, however, when she was nearly 100.

    August 22, 2010 at 12:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • KD

      You do realize that these ladies are the exceptions, especially considering their age.

      August 22, 2010 at 13:35 | Report abuse |
    • BillinSD

      Worlds Oldest – All Smokers: http://www.forces.org/static_page/oldest.php

      August 22, 2010 at 13:53 | Report abuse |
    • KD

      Still the exception...

      August 22, 2010 at 14:22 | Report abuse |
  17. Matt McHugh

    Smoking. Overeating. Owning a gun. Riding a motorcycle without a helmet. Driving a car without a seat belt. All these are voluntary activities any intelligent person would view as unnecessary risks. However, all can be fairly argued as the province of individual freedom. I tend to agree. Though they all do have some larger societal impact, statistically speaking, they are vastly more likely to bring about the indulging individual's demise. So, I say go for 'em, rednecks! Do us all a favor.

    August 22, 2010 at 13:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Swamprattler

      I only own 9 guns, some are for slaying animals which I eat, also slaying animals I don't eat, they be called varmints. Then I have 3 guns for home defence, and weeding out whiners about my way of life. I'm 68 and plan on living a lot longer, so I will light up when I wish.

      August 22, 2010 at 14:31 | Report abuse |
  18. Ray

    We all know that smiking is bad for you an others, but, the smokers with the taxes they pay give untold money to the States and the Goverment. Every time they want to raise money, they jack up the tax on cigarettes. If you check across the country, you would find that alcohol does more damage to people than smoking could ever do. We don't have smokers in jail or prisions because they have killed someone when they are drinking and driveing. Look at all the injuries thzat people have caused from driking. thdey don'r raise the tax on liquior because most polititians drink. The next time money is needed, raise the tax on alcohol by as much as they have raised it on smoking and you would have it voted down. Why?, because those who drink do not want to pay more for their drinks. stop picking on smokders and start on drinkers. I don't have to worry abot a smoker driving while smoking, but I do have to worry about a drinker driving and killing me.

    August 22, 2010 at 13:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Claire

      What does any of this have to do with the fact that smokers are drug addicts, and that second hand smoke harms others? If they ever find a cure for this addiction, so people don't feel driven to do it or make excuses for it, they will simply tax something else.

      August 24, 2010 at 08:50 | Report abuse |
  19. John N Florida

    Somebody is lying and I'd like to know which party is doing it.
    On the one hand we have this group of Scientists telling us how 2nd Hand Smoke is so dangerous. Even a whiff here and there could spell some body's doom from Cancer.
    On the other side, we have the legal profession, with the courts and precedents saying it's impossible for a person in a car with a group of marijuana smokers to get a 'contact high'.
    If you can't get a contact high in an enclosed car, how can you get cancer from 2nd hand smoke at an open air restaurant?
    Somebody is lying.

    August 22, 2010 at 13:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Swamprattler

      I agree John, and some of the ones who whine the loudest will go and sit in the stands of a nascar race for 4 hours smelling exaust smoke then whine like a baby if a guy lights up. They should go lock themselves away in their house and never come out.

      August 22, 2010 at 14:24 | Report abuse |
    • Claire

      The science is clear. Addicts smoke and smoke negatively affects others' health. What people do with this information is the question. The smokers, speaking from their addiction, are trying to raise questions that are red herrings, and also trying to shift the argument through nonsequiturs about other health problems. And there are some people who extrapolate more than science presents. That doesn't change the underlying reality that addicts smoke and smoke negatively affects others' health.

      August 24, 2010 at 08:54 | Report abuse |
  20. Tom

    As someone who has a foot in neither camp, all I can say is that, when I read these posts, I see a society that has made "zero tolerance" its mantra. Sad, and more dangerous than any kind of smoke you might encounter.

    August 22, 2010 at 13:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Claire

      This is about addicted people behaving in ways that harm others. The unspoken element is that we need to find a cure for the addiction so the problem becomes moot. "Tolerance" must include measures that move away from harming others, especially children in the home of the addict.

      August 24, 2010 at 08:57 | Report abuse |
  21. chuck

    People who drink and drive are idiots.
    people who take drugs are idiots.
    people who are excessively fat, except for a very small percentage are idiots
    PEOPLE who SMOKE are idiots.
    your social status, your IQ or anything else about you means nothing. If you do things like that ,YOU ARE AN IDIOT.

    August 22, 2010 at 13:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Claire

      No, very smart people also are addicts. Addictions just take many forms.
      Idiot means something very specific, and it probably does not apply to most addicts.
      Shaming and blaming has never worked to cure addicts. It simply destroys their self-esteem and may even lead to more addictive behavior.

      August 24, 2010 at 09:05 | Report abuse |
    • F.U.Chuck!

      Chuck....I'm a DRUNK and HIGH FAT guy and I'm driving right now. I've got one hand on my phone typing this reply and the other is smoking a cigarette. Don't worry, even in my drunken, High state, I can still drive with my knee!

      October 29, 2010 at 18:38 | Report abuse |
  22. BillinSD

    The Air According to OSHA:
    OSHA has established PELs (Permissible Exposure Levels) for all the measurable chemicals, including the 40 alleged carcinogens, in secondhand smoke. PELs are levels of exposure for an 8-hour workday from which, according to OSHA, no harm will result.

    "Field studies of environmental tobacco smoke indicate that under normal conditions, the components in tobacco smoke are diluted below existing Permissible Exposure Levels (PELS.) as referenced in the Air Contaminant Standard (29 CFR 1910.1000)...It would be very rare to find a workplace with so much smoking that any individual PEL would be exceeded."
    -Letter From Greg Watchman, Acting Ass't Sec'y, OSHA, To Leroy J Pletten, PHD, July 8, 1997

    "We posit a sealed, unventilated enclosure that is 20 feet square with a 9 foot ceiling clearance.

    "Taking the figures for ETS yields per cigarette directly from the EPA, we calculated the number of cigarettes that would be required to reach the lowest published "danger" threshold for each of these substances. The results are actually quite amusing. In fact, it is difficult to imagine a situation where these threshold limits could be realized.

    "Our chart (Table 1) illustrates each of these substances, but let me report some notable examples.

    "For Benzo[a]pyrene, 222,000 cigarettes would be required to reach the lowest published "danger" threshold.

    "For Acetone, 118,000 cigarettes would be required.

    "Toluene would require 50,000 packs of simultaneously smoldering cigarettes.

    "At the lower end of the scale– in the case of Acetaldehyde or Hydrazine, more than 14,000 smokers would need to light up simultaneously in our little room to reach the threshold at which they might begin to pose a danger.

    "For Hydroquinone, "only" 1250 cigarettes are required. Perhaps we could post a notice limiting this 20-foot square room to 300 rather tightly-packed people smoking no more than 62 packs per hour?

    "Of course the moment we introduce real world factors to the room - a door, an open window or two, or a healthy level of mechanical air exchange (remember, the room we've been talking about is sealed) achieving these levels becomes even more implausible.

    "It becomes increasingly clear to us that ETS is a political, rather than scientific, scapegoat."

    August 22, 2010 at 14:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Claire

      Wow. Harley has a twin. There is no argument that lessens the reality of addiction. Smokers are addicts. All these red herring posts don't change that fact.

      August 24, 2010 at 09:08 | Report abuse |
  23. Swamprattler

    The next thing coming is 4th hand smoke, you go in a store and a cigarette ad is displayed, and you will get cancer from it. That makes about as much sense as second hand smoke does. First, stay the hell out of my space if you don't like smoke, because if you think cigarette smoke is bad, wait until you smell the smoke of burning gun powder for all ya whining.

    August 22, 2010 at 14:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • chuck

      sorry, if you are on public propery, it isn't YOUR space. it's everyones. And you have no right to polute everyone else's air.

      August 22, 2010 at 16:47 | Report abuse |
    • chuck

      If you would like to smoke in public with a plastic bag over your head, be my guest. I'm sure you'll find enough volunteers to hold it on tightly so that none of your pollutant escapes!!

      August 22, 2010 at 16:48 | Report abuse |
  24. BillinSD

    George Burns:

    When asked in his late 90s if his doctor knew he still smoked, Burns said, "No ... he's dead."

    ------------------

    "As an example to others, and not that I care for moderation myself, it has always been my rule never to smoke when asleep, and never to refrain from smoking when awake".

    Mark Twain... Outlived his non-smoking/teetotal wife, and all but one of his children.

    ----------------

    "He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire"

    W. S. Churchill (on Hitler?)

    Churchill Smoked/Drank all his life, and lived to 90. Hitler was a non-smoking teetotal vegetarian, dead at 56.

    August 22, 2010 at 14:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MOCaseA

      Your last example is a somewhat bad one as Hitler did not die of old age or health related complications... Unless you count a bullet to the brain as a health related complication. But still your point is taken.

      These examples are nice in showing that there are those individuals who live long and fulfilling lives even when smoking. I have many examples like these in my life.

      August 23, 2010 at 12:01 | Report abuse |
  25. BillinSD

    According to the WHO (World Health Organization), Japan has the most smokers per capita of nearly any modernized nation...

    They also have a higher life expectancy than nearly anyone else on the planet.

    Smoky old France is right up there with them in smoking and life expectancy.

    America, a nation of healthnuts, spends more than twice what everyone else does on healthcare, yet life expectancy is down around 42nd, under most of Europe, as well as Jordan, Guam and the Cayman Islands.

    We need to re-examine our priorities.

    August 22, 2010 at 14:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. E.Ham

    To taw57–Obese folks do affect the health of others because they raise the cost of health care and some folks, such as myself, can no longer afford a decent health care plan.

    August 22, 2010 at 14:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. smoker

    Smokers, in just about every state in the US, cannot smoke within 50 feet of a public building. We can't smoke in restaurants, bars, stores, workplaces, schools (even certain college campuses), most hotel rooms, most cruise ships, and who knows where else we can't smoke. The two places that I smoke, my backyard, and my car, are pieces of property that I own. My neighbors do not smoke, so when their windows are open, I abstain from smoking in the backyard. I don't smoke when my husband or son are in the car with me, and I don't toss my butts out the window. I know smoking is bad for me, but it is my choice to do it. Last I heard this was a free country. I pay obscene taxes on every pack of cigarettes that I buy, and those tax dollars go to fund A LOT of programs. What I would like to know of the psychotic anti-smoking types, is WHERE ARE YOU GOING TO GET THE MONEY TO FUND ALL THE PROGRAMS THAT CIGARETTE TAXES PROVIDE FUNDING FOR WHEN SMOKING BECOMES SO EXPENSIVE, THAT ONLY THE RICH CAN AFFORD TO SMOKE? Thanks for your attention, I will now descend from my soapbox.

    August 22, 2010 at 14:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Non-smoker

      Smoker, it's very considerate of you to not smoke when it would impact those around you. I wish every smoker was that considerate. This is how the missed taxes would be made up if everyone quit smoking – there would be so many more productive work days & hence income tax due to people being healthier, and fewer people needing assistance because they can no longer work.

      My brother-in-law died of emphysema, a heavy smoker since his early teens. His last years were miserable. It doesn't happen to everyone who smokes, but it's sad that even one person goes through something like that. No one made him smoke, it was his choice. But those who loved him suffered because of that choice.

      August 23, 2010 at 05:46 | Report abuse |
  28. Nobody

    I absolutely LOVE that Michigan recently adopted the non-smoking ban in restaurants. Thank goodness I can eat my meal without some nicotine-starved addict sucking away on their cancer stick without caring about anyone around them. Any sort of addict will desperately cling to their vice, which explains the same droning we hear over and over from smokers who feel their rights are being violated by health claims. Wha's interesting is, the smoker who turns non-smoker eventually comes out to say "wow, did I really stink like that?". Yes.... I'm afraid you did, honey.

    August 22, 2010 at 15:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Mr BO

    It's nice to have those 15 years added to your life. Trouble is, it's on the wrong end of your life.

    I've found a great deal of dishonesty from any side of this issue. The Tobacco companies research are suspect, but then again, colleges and research firms that accept tax money will tend to side with the anti-smoking side to gain more grants. The UN itself conducted a huge study in Europe over second hand smoke. It didn't find anything one way or the other. Did they bring this to the scientific community? NO!!! They deep-sixed it. When organizations are willing to be dishonest with their results, I tend to say ho-hum.

    This report is in itself dishonest. How many people were tested? How many that were exposed to smoke had this detectable level of genetic changes to the epithelial cells? In what amount? There are really no figures in this report. (Which doesn't surprise me, news reporters become frighteningly vague when they approach the scary subject of statistics)

    This is more tripe from those that just don't like the smell.

    August 22, 2010 at 16:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. KD

    I don't need scientific studies to clarify something as obvious as the effects of smoking. All it takes is for me to observe members of my family who do. My husband and I have four grown children and our family is split down the middle as far as smokers and non-smokers. Ironically, the three family members who do smoke also have problems with alcohol addiction—which makes quitting that much harder. I've seen the battles that my husband, son and daughter have waged with trying to quit. So far they have not succeeded but the desire is there. They know how it is affecting the quality of their lives. I've also seen the negative effects of second-hand smoke on children and experienced it myself first-hand. So you can stand, sit or lie there all day long and declare that second-hand smoke has no affect on other people but that doesn't change the facts.

    August 22, 2010 at 17:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Matt

    Meh – second-hand smoke is certainly bad for people, but can somebody explain why it is that we're even discussing it? Coal burning here in Ohio dumps so much toxic garbage into the air that residents are advised to eat only a few fish from local waters due to MERCURY ACCUMULATION and nobody seems to have any interest in stopping it...

    August 22, 2010 at 18:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Candid One

    "Secondhand smoke" is a misnomer. Mostly, it's firsthand. A chain smoker will take four or five puffs on a cigarette before putting it out and starting on the next one. Most of that cigarette's smoke is never passed through the smoker in any way. Most of that smoke goes in the air where it can be breathed by nonsmokers, without having passed through a cigarette filter or the smoker's lungs. By any description, that's firsthand.

    August 22, 2010 at 18:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Mr BO

    KD... a sad story, but what the medical community would call anecdotal. My mother lived to 83 exposed most of her life to second hand smoke. She had one cigarette in her whole life and died in a way unrelated to smoke. Her sister who DOES smoke is 78 with no signs of ill effects so far (Except being so right wing that it could annoy even Rush Limbaugh)

    Candid one... I haven't seen folks smoke like that since they banned smoking from our office in 1987. Regardless, that's NOT first hand as the smoke is diluted by hundreds of cubic feet of air. (Unless everyone is living with a smoker in a closet)

    August 22, 2010 at 19:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • KD

      No doubt there are people who have been blessed with a little extra resilience when it comes to health. I've known a handful like that myself (my grandmother for one) but that isn't the norm. Environmental pollution, no matter what the cause, can be detrimental to our health. Anecdotal or not, I've seen enough people affected by cigarettes, directly and indirectly, to know they aren't good. If the issue of secondhand smoke can be solved by diluting it with air, then take it outside.

      August 22, 2010 at 20:15 | Report abuse |
  34. friend

    Dear smoker,
    I knew the lady who died of lung cancer. when I visited her in the hospital, she was crying all the time, saying when she slips she dreems that she is UNDER WATER not being able to breath. When she wakes up it takes 15-20 min to catch her breath again. That's how cancer fills – not being able to breath, for weeks and months, until you can't breath in even a little air. And you die because of that. Try that, put a plastic bag over your head, see how it feels. She had 11 year old daughter.
    Please, try to quit.

    August 22, 2010 at 19:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BillinSD

      Non smokers love to ask/tell, often with more than a hint of glee: "how you will feel when you get cancer"...

      Problemo is, everyone who lives long enough will eventually get cancer, and cancer is the leading cause of death in non-smokers too.

      My dad was a rabid anti-smoking fanatic. He got a squamous cell/base of tongue in his 60s. Survived a few years, and just when he thought it was all behind him came down with Leukemia from the radiation he got for the squamous cell.

      Schadenfreude regarding smokers and cancer is the lowest form of social ill manners, right up there with making fun of fat folk in their presence. Enjoy it while you can if you must, but don't ever think a doctor will never sit you down for the big talk about cancer just because you don't smoke. My dad thought he was safe too, but he tempted fate and fate taught him an important lesson in manners. His non-smokers death wasn't all that pleasant either.

      August 22, 2010 at 20:52 | Report abuse |
    • MOCaseA

      Dear Non-Smoker,
      I knew a lady who died of cancer. She never smoked a cigarette in her life, stayed away from second hand smoke, and tried living healthy. She died of lung cancer do to use of pesticides on a farm upwind of her home. She had 4 children ages 14,12,10 and 6. Please, don't live near a farm.

      Dear Non-smoker,
      I know a guy who died at 32 due to mesothelioma. That is a rare form of lung cancer generally caused by exposure to asbestos. He was an accountant, bought a nice home in a residential area with a historic past. The asbestos was part of the insulation in the walls of his home.
      Please don't buy old homes.

      Dear Non-smoker,
      I know a kid who died at the age of 7 because his parents owned a pool and he disobeyed them one day.
      Please don't own a pool and raise disobedient children.

      Dear... I think you get the point...

      August 23, 2010 at 11:52 | Report abuse |
  35. fred

    The addiction speaks for the smokers.

    August 22, 2010 at 20:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Claire

      And it's one powerful addiction, as evidenced by their posts.

      August 24, 2010 at 09:11 | Report abuse |
  36. Billy

    Smokers and STD infested whores that can't stop sleeping around, your all the same.

    August 22, 2010 at 21:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. someoneElse

    If you smoke and are under ~35 (i.e. the time that there was more than enough info out there for a good decision) you are either stupid or pathetically weak.

    August 22, 2010 at 21:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MOCaseA

      What about those who had indoor chain-smokers for parents? I have always lived around smoking, and when my parents quit smoking I started (at age 12, and I'm 30 right now). Don't try to feel superior for something you don't understand by insulting or degrading others.

      August 23, 2010 at 11:45 | Report abuse |
  38. ex-smoker

    I know that second hand smoke affects others. I entered the smoking section of a restaurant to see some friends, and after about 3 minutes I felt a small wave of lightheadedness. A few minutes later, after my visit, I left and still wondering what caused that feeling in the restaurant. A couple of hours later, I figured it out, it was the cigarette smoke, it would have been like that first drag on that cigarette after not smoking for a while. So yes, second hand smoke does have an affect, and if it hadn't been for that day, I may not have believed it myself.

    August 22, 2010 at 22:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. MOCaseA

    I'm a smoker. I smoke outside, away from building entrances where my cigarettes aren't going to bother as many people. I try to be a polite smoker and if it is bothering people near me I put my cigarette out. I don't force oter people to tolerate my choice, because it wasn't their choice. That being said...

    If you are a non-smoker DO NOT force your view on me. I don't force you to smoke, so do not try to force me not to smoke. Because do you know what? I'm going to smoke whether or not you like it as long as it is legal. I'll be as polite as possible as long as you are polite to me. My smoking does not entitle you to bad manners. If it offends you, walk away. If you cannot walk away let me know, politely, and I'll put the cigarette out and throw the butt away.

    If you are rude to me, I'll be rude right back to you. Get in my face and I'll blow smoke in your face (because I really won't have much of a choice at that point). Start yelling or getting ignorant with me, and I'll get ignorant with you.

    I understand your right and respect your choice of not smoking. Just don't try to force your choice on me.

    August 23, 2010 at 11:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Frodis

    Major pet peeve of mine (and I apologize if I've overlooked this) but why is it that so many news stories do not at least give the citation for the study in question...the journal name, issue date, article title, etc?? Something to help me find the primary journal article!! You've cited and linked to another unrelated study (so apparently you have that capability) but the primary study this post is discussing is not cited anywhere? Please CNN reporters, at least observe some basic journalistic practices. Geesh!

    For anyone else interested in finding the original journal article, I found the citation in a HealthDay story.

    "The report is published in the Aug. 20 issue of American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine."

    August 23, 2010 at 12:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Brau Mellus

    I live in Boston where marijuana is legal, but no smoking in bars.

    August 23, 2010 at 19:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Omg

    i think everyone should quit bitching, shut the hell up, and mind your own health.

    August 23, 2010 at 22:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Christine

    SMOKING IS AN ADDICTION....SIMPLE AS THAT....But, smokers have the control whether they quit or smoke. I feel sorry for non smokers living in a smoking home as well as the animals SUBJECTED to second hand smoke. There are many ways out there for people to quit smoking. NO EXCUSES today other than facing the fact that you have an ADDICTION. You have the power to quit. I never did smoke but I grew up in a smoking home years ago. As a child you had no choice. People reading this, please quit. Think of all the money you could save and your own life as well.

    August 24, 2010 at 02:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Claire

      Christine, addicted people lack control, by definition. Many smokers try to quit their entire lives. If it were as simple as just quitting, it would be different. But you see how addicted they are from their posts. An article some time ago reported on a study that found this addiction was harder to break than even heroine, so this is not something most people can just stop. And the few that can, and then crow about it, do a disservice to those who cannot and to science, for trivializing it.

      August 24, 2010 at 09:15 | Report abuse |
  44. Todd

    I dont agree that people with obesity only affect themselves. take a look at the children, most of the time they are overweight as well. so it does affect more than just themselves.

    August 24, 2010 at 14:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Donna

    Of course smoking can harm our health even smoking occasionaly. http://www.cigs4girls.com/

    September 11, 2010 at 09:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. tgit23

    The reason smokers don't see non-smokers point of view is because it doesn't make any sense. Those who wish smoking be banned or that second hand smoke is a considerable health risk believe 'psychologically' that the smell of smoke is going to kill them or cause health problems in the next 10yrs. Yet those who aren't biased can easily notice people who don't smoke, don't die from those who do. Smoking has been going on for decades and if second hand smoke was a considerable health hazard, people would have noticed it a long time ago!!! Not all the sudden in the last 5yrs. Some can live after eating rat poison, some die within the week (oh, hey that's a health hazard). Since the oldest recorded person to ever live was a smoker at some point in her life, it's pretty obvious this so called health hazard is over blown to a level of flat lies and fallacies.

    Take a look at this video, I think it says a lot about how corrupt our science has become with politics and movements.
    Showtime television, "How the EPA, CDC, Lung Association, and etc." support their claims.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGApkbcaZK4

    September 16, 2010 at 14:40 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.