Second-hand smokescreen | india | Hindustan Times
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Second-hand smokescreen

A study says a long-time anti-tobacco activist and physician has found that the effect of “a single, transient exposure to second-hand smoke” has all this while been “overstated”.

india Updated: Nov 22, 2007 21:00 IST

It’s one thing to exaggerate the virtues of spinach to children through the medium of a cartoon pipe-chewing sailorman. It’s quite another to overplay the dangers of second-hand smoke to adults. The most jabardast argument that smokers have had is that they know that smoking is harmful for their health, but they would still rather continue clogging up their lungs and heart for the sheer pleasure of it. In other words, it’s what one would call a lifestyle choice.

Unfortunately for them, the smoke that they spew is not always restricted to their own lungs and heart. And it is this ‘second-hand smoke’ that has always given the anti-smoking lobby the upper hand. Their argument being: do all the harm you will to your own body, but you have no right to harm the bodies of others. Now research seems to have uncovered an unpleasant truth (unpleasant for the anti-tobacco brigade, that is). It turns out that a scientific study conducted by a long-time anti-tobacco activist and physician has found that the effect of “a single, transient exposure to second-hand smoke” has all this while been “overstated”. Dr Michael Siegal added that only regular exposure to second-hand smoke is likely to “increase the risk” of a heart attack for a non-smoker. The good doctor further added — and here’s the clincher — that as far as the “actual possibility” of causing a heart attack is concerned... “even chronic exposure to second-hand smoke cannot cause a heart attack in a healthy non-smoker”.

Frankly, the message we glean from all this is that second-hand smoke is almost as dangerous as second-hand alcohol. Which makes us wonder how rational the increasingly fashionable ‘no-smoking in public’ policy actually is.