Biology/Environmental Tobacco Smoke term paper 11307

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Environmental Tobacco Smoke

Mark Ritter

Matt Porter

Research Paper

November 25, 1996

Tobacco smoking has long been recognized as a major cause of death and

disease, responsible for an estimated 434,000 deaths per year in the United

States. After the Environmental Protection Agency and the Surgeon General

stated that cigarettes cause lung cancer there was a tremendous movement to make

cigarettes illegal. Now the debate is on environmental tobacco smoke also known

as secondhand smoke, passive smoking, and sidestream smoke. The worry is that

when non-smokers are exposed to secondhand smoke they face the same health

hazards as smokers.

Tobacco smoke contains more than forty known carcinogens. Sidestream

smoke carries these carcinogens into the air (Sussman 12). According to

scientific studies tobacco smoke contains four thousand chemicals, and at least

sixty are known to cause cancer. Carbon monoxide is the main gas in cigarette

smoke. This gas competes with oxygen for binding sites on red blood cells, and

results in depleting the body of oxygen (Q&A). Researchers studied 1,906 women

of which 653 developed lung cancer. Women married to smokers were thirty

percent more likely to develop lung cancer than those married to non-smokers

(LeMaistre 1). According to the Environmental Protection Agency a thirty

percent risk is only a small relative risk. The Environmental Protection Agency

released its report stating that environmental tobacco smoke is a human lung

carcinogen, responsible for approximately three thousand lung cancer deaths

annually in American non-smokers. Environmental tobacco smoke has been

classified as a Group A carcinogen, the highest ranking under the EPA's

carcinogen assessment guidelines.

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