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There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke.

The 2006 Surgeon General’s Report on the health consequences of involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke reached six major conclusions based on the many advances in the research on secondhand smoke since the last Surgeon General’s report that examined this issue in 1986.  One of these six conclusions was that  “The scientific evidence indicates that there is no risk-free level of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.”  This conclusion is based on the comprehensive review of the evidence on the toxicology of secondhand smoke, reproductive and developmental effects of exposure and respiratory effects in children and adults and cancer and cardiovascular disease in adults. Exposure to secondhand smoke has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and can cause coronary heart disease. Breathing secondhand smoke can have immediate adverse effects on your blood and blood vessels, increasing the risk of having a heart attack. Breathing secondhand smoke interferes with the normal functioning of the heart, blood, and vascular systems in ways that increase the risk of having a heart attack. Even brief secondhand smoke exposure can damage the lining of blood vessels and cause blood platelets to become stickier. People who already have heart disease are at especially high risk of suffering adverse effects from breathing secondhand smoke and should take special precaution.

Institute of Medicine. Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects: Making Sense of the Evidence. Washington: National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, 2009 [accessed 2010 Jan 6].

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coordinating Center for Health Promotion, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2006. logo
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