Saucers of Mud

June 18, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — matt w @ 7:12 am

I don’t want to be a tobacco apologist, and I think people should stop smoking, but I find this recently trumpeted study a bit weird:

According to the study [by Jonathan Winickoff], a large number of people, particularly smokers, have no idea that third-hand smoke—the cocktail of toxins that linger in carpets, sofas, clothes and other materials hours or even days after a cigarette is put out—is a health hazard for infants and children. Of the 1,500 smokers and nonsmokers Winickoff surveyed, the vast majority agreed that second-hand smoke is dangerous. But when asked whether they agreed with the statement, “Breathing air in a room today where people smoked yesterday can harm the health of infants and children,” only 65 percent of nonsmokers and 43 percent of smokers answered “yes.”

…”The third-hand smoke idea—concern over that—has been around for a long time. It’s only recently been given a name and studied,” says Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco. “The level of toxicity in cigarette smoke is just astronomical when compared to other environmental toxins [such as particles found in automobile exhaust],” he adds, but notes that he is not aware of any studies directly linking third-hand smoke to disease [as opposed to second-hand smoke, which has been associated with disease].

Before you do a study making fun of people who don’t think third-hand smoke can harm children, shouldn’t you do a study showing that third-hand smoke can harm children?


1 Comment »

  1. You have a point. Similarly I read a story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette today seeming to indicate that there was a high death rate from cancer in certain areas–but then it boiled down to there being a high observed level of known environmental toxins in the air, NOT an observed high death rate. OTOH, it’s very difficult to carry out such a study–you’d have to enroll a lot of children and follow them for a long time, probably. And how to separate “third-hand” from “second-hand” smoke? (I guess you could find people who smoke only outdoors but carry toxins on their clothes…) One way might be to study SIDS, but again you’d have to separate second-hand from “third-hand” (and how many hands do parents have? not enough) smoke.

    Comment by Matt's mom — June 25, 2009 @ 11:47 am

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