CARB declares secondhand smoke a pollutant

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Feb. 3, 2006 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

On January 26th California’s Air Resources Board (CARB), in a unanimous decision, became the first state to make secondhand smoke a toxic air pollutant, putting it in the same category as diesel, arsenic and benzene.  CARB relied on a report that concluded that major health issues increased by tobacco fumes include: breast cancer, premature births, and heart disease, among others.  

California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), in a September, 2005 report, stated that 4,000 deaths per year in California from lung cancer and heart disease were believed to have been caused by secondhand smoke.  Recent studies by state officials show that exposure to secondhand smoke by young women can double the chance of breast cancer.

While this report conflicts with a 2004 report from the U.S. Surgeon General, OEHHA maintains that their research is more current, exhaustive and based on sound science.

CARB must next consider regulatory steps to reduce exposure, a process that could take years. What will be done about this in the legislature is still up in the air. A likely option is the resurrection of a bill from 2003 to make it illegal to smoke in a motor vehicle when children are present. Another outcome could be legislation to make certain floors of apartment buildings non-smoking areas.  

It is unclear if the listing of secondhand smoke as a toxic air pollutant will have further impact on California’s businesses.  CMTA will continue to monitor the issue and keep you informed if we see implications which could affect industry practices.
Read more Environmental Impacts articles

Capitol updates archive 989898989