Passive smoking

With the crackdowns on smoking in restaurants and covered places (for instance railway stations and tram/bus shelters — though the signage is almost non-existent, so some people still smoke) I’m now more likely to indulge in passive smoking while walking down the street than anywhere else.

This might be because I don’t frequent bars and pubs very often — though I might be more inclined to once the smoking bans kick in there next year.

The adverts say “every cigarette is doing you damage”, though evidently the dangers of secondhand smoke are not well established, apart from breathing issues. At the very least it’s unpleasant, and bad for the laundry bill.

But I wonder how dangerous the smoke and other air pollution is? Is it the case that it won’t affect a healthy person, that any toxins that get into your lungs can’t do permanent damage? Or is there a chance, however small, that (as was the case with asbestosis) even just a molecule of Bad Stuff sticking may cause cancer or some other serious ailment later in life?

Am I right to hold my breath as I walk past hazy street-side cafes or building entrances? Should I continue to try and overtake when I’m walking behind someone grabbing that desperate nicotine fix between the station and their office? What’s worse — car exhaust, or secondhand cigarette smoke? How long before smoking is confined to spots that can only bother other smokers?

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10 Replies to “Passive smoking”

  1. There’s a case here, in Ottawa, of a lady who worked in a smoky restaurant as a waitress for years. She never smoked a day in her life, but she’s dying of lung cancer, all the same. She’s a poster woman for the Canadian Cancer Society. Very sad story indeed. But that is a drastic case of daily exposure. Who really knows if a daily exposure to a small amount of cigarette smoke can hurt your lungs more than car exhaust or diesel exhaust? I don’t know that. But it’s a scary thing to think that women are dying of lung cancer who have never smoked a day in their life. Dana Reeve, the widow of Christopher Reeve comes to mind as an example. Awful, in a word.

  2. What we need is little “public smoking stations” in the CBD. A little area with a big brick wall around it and an automatic door so none of it gets out, and all the smoke flows upwards and not towards the non-smokers on the footpaths. Put these PSSes down laneways or on the roofs of parts of office buildings so nobody can see them. Yes, I know it sounds odd :P ;)

    Are those smoking bans at stations ever enforced? My policy is to give a dirty look to anyone smoking in the no smoking area. I’ve given my ‘greasy look’ to several people lighting up at Box Hill and Spencer St [flinders st is better] stations, and I always get a “huh why are you looking at me look” as if they don’t know. Probably because at many stations there is little signage. Box Hill only has a tiny ‘NO SMOKING IN COVERED AREAS’ sign on the glass doors between the station and the shopping center :roll:, and Spencer St has about 1 sign-per-platform.

  3. Last Friday night on the concourse at Flinders St, I saw some plain-clothes officers, badges at the ready, approach a man who was smoking a cigarette. I was in a hurry, so didn’t wait around to see if he got warned or fined.

    You’re right — it’s okay at Flinders St, but most stations lack adequate No Smoking signs.

  4. Pasive smokers get more damage from those fumes than the active ones…
    Smoking is really a bad thing to do. My grandfather used to smoke 2 boxes per day (40 cigarretes). Being diabetic… (Type II or the non insuline dependant) that was a bad thing to do. In 2003 He lost one leg because his arteries were so rigid because the cigars and diabetes that they couldn’t save it. Now he is very likely to loose the other leg. He quited smoking after the first operation, but harm was done….

  5. You are right Daniel a few lungfuls of passive cigarette smoke are of little significance beside the exhaust fumes and other air pollution in an urban environment. The documented cases where passive smoking has caused cancer are those with higher exposures like the bar worker above or the spouses of heavy smokers. That’s not to say it isn’t unpleasant and that we shouldn’t be worried about the pollution we breath in each day walking and working in our cities but your chances of gettin lung cancer as a non smoker are very low. Worry about skin, bowel and prostate!

  6. What we need is little “public smoking stations” in the CBD. A little area with a big brick wall around it and an automatic door so none of it gets out, and all the smoke flows upwards and not towards the non-smokers on the footpaths. Put these PSSes down laneways or on the roofs of parts of office buildings so nobody can see them. Yes, I know it sounds odd

    Not so odd! They have these in Japan and I think they’re a marvelous idea. It’s funny walking past this hazy smoke-filled box with the people inside getting their fix.

    And personally, if they could outlaw smoking completely, I’d be a happy girl.

  7. The little glass-walled smoking rooms are a good idea. I also think they should be cleaned infrequently so it brings home to smokers just how filthy their habit is.

    I catch V/line to go to work, and last Wednesday, I was on one of the new (supposedly) “fast trains” I noticed the foul odour of a cigarette, and I looked around the train to see who was smoking. I could not see anything. 15 mins later the stench was back. The conductor then came into the carriage and slowly wandered down the aisle carefully looking at each passenger (presumably looking for the smoker) Finding no one, he then went into the drivers compartment. The stink stopped immediately. Looks like the airconditioning does a good job of blowing the driver’s smoke into the rest of the carriage. Don’t know what that driver was smoking, but it was FOUL! (and no, it wasn’t the 4:20 train! LOL!)

  8. The ABC’s Catalyst telecast an episode about traffic air pollution entitled “Dirty Little Secrets” last Thursday evening (4/5). More details here…

    http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/

    Looks like you can view it online. Catalyst is now a mandatory view for me after discovering the show accidentally while channel-surfing.

  9. Smoking has never done good for anyone. Its has its side-effects ranging from minor to major. It not only spoils the enviroment but the person inhaling it.Most people left smoking when the harm is already done.So leave it before its too late!!!

  10. True smoking is disgusting & dangerous but excessive drinking to me, is worse. It’s so detrimental tothe health & law enforement systems, families and the individuals. I used to do both and niether produced anything good.

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