More restrictions on smokers to be expected following toxic air classification

An environmental agency in the U.S. has classified tobacco smoke as toxic and the move will inevitably lead to more restrictions on smokers.

California's Air Resources Board has decreed tobacco smoke to be a "toxic air contaminant," the first time this has happened in any state and could mean tougher state regulations on cigarette smoke.

California has often led the nation in health and ecological regulation, and John Froines, chairman of the Air Resources Board Scientific Review Panel says there is no question that this puts California way ahead.

Froines says to have the major air pollution agency in the state of California to list ETS (environmental tobacco smoke) as a toxic air contaminant is going to have immense impact, in terms of public education around other states and will clearly lead to regulatory changes within the state of California.

Following a study by the panel in 2005 it was found that about 16 percent of all Californians smoked, but 56 percent of adults and 64 percent of adolescents were exposed to second-hand smoke.

According to California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, as many as 5,500 non-smoking Californians die annually of heart disease related to second hand smoke and as many as 1,100 die from lung cancer from second-hand smoke.

Numerous scientific studies in recent years have warned about the health impact from second-hand smoke and linked the smoke to a wide array of ailments including heart disease, breast cancer,lung cancer and other respiratory ailments.

The study found that because the diseases are common and ETS exposure is frequent and widespread, the overall impact can be quite large.

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