The Cigarette Companies tricked the public about the risks of secondhand smoke exposure, officials declared. For example in September 2006, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia decided that the major tobacco companies made false and untruth public statements refusing that environmental tobacco smoke is hazardous to nonsmokers and ordered these companies to provide corrective declaration sharing the adverse health effects of exposure to secondhand smoke.
But today many anti-smoking advocates are themselves misleading the public about the health risks associated with secondhand smoke, in completely the contrary direction. Almost 100 of these groups are now declaring that even a brief exposure to secondhand smoke, for as little as 30 minutes, can cause hardening of the arteries, heart disease, heart attacks, deadly arrhythmias or strokes in healthy nonsmokers.
Such claims are being used to confirm policies such as the proposed ban on smoking in all New York City parks. But the declarations about second-hand smoking are simply not true, said officials.
Theoretically, it is possible that a brief exposure to tobacco smoke could cause a heart attack in someone with severe, pre-existing coronary artery disease, but there is no evidence that a healthy person exposed briefly to secondhand smoke is at risk of suffering a heart attack.
However that didn’t stop the U.S. Surgeon General himself from saying, in 2006, that even brief exposure to secondhand smoke has direct negative effects on the cardiovascular system and increases risk for heart disease and lung cancer.
For example national anti-smoking groups were quick to repeated that breathing drifting tobacco smoke for as little as 30 minutes less than the time one might be exposed outdoors on a beach, sitting on a park bench, listening to a concert in a park can raise a nonsmoker’s risk of suffering a fatal heart attack to that of a smoker.
These facts can’t be true because while chronic exposure to secondhand smoke is indeed a major cause of heart disease and lung cancer and a brief secondhand smoke exposure may indeed exacerbate cardiovascular or respiratory symptoms in individuals with pre-existing disease, a single 30 minute exposure to tobacco smoke cannot possibly cause hardening of the arteries or other serious cardiovascular diseases in a healthy person.
Health scientists explained that it takes many years before the effects of even active smoking become so pronounced that they translate into clinically significant narrowing of the coronary or head and neck arteries severe enough to cause a heart attack, fatal arrhythmia or stroke, and with secondhand smoking, it takes even longer.
By wildly exaggerating the health risks of secondhand smoke exposure, the anti-smoking groups are risking their confidence.
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