Some 126 million nonsmokers are exposed to secondhand smoke in the U.S., what U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona repeatedly calls "involuntary smoking" that puts people at increased risk of death from lung cancer, heart disease and other illnesses.
Moreover, separate smoking sections don’t cut it: Only smoke-free buildings and public places truly protect nonsmokers from the hazards of breathing in other people’s tobacco smoke, according to the report.
"The debate is over. The science is clear: Secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance, but a serious health hazard," said U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona.
Carmona is especially concerned about young children who can’t escape their parents’ addiction in search of cleaner air: Just over one in five children is exposed to secondhand smoke at home, where workplace bans don’t reach. Those children are at increased risk of SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome; lung infections such as pneumonia; ear infections; and more severe asthma.
Carmona implored parents who can’t kick the habit to smoke outdoors, never in a house or car with a child. Opening a window to let the smoke out won’t protect them.
"Stay away from smokers," he urged everyone else.