What if you already have a health problem like asthma which may or may not be caused by pollution or second-hand smoking?

Then you need clean air dammit or the resulting lung irritation can screw up your entire week breathing-wise (the asthma attack itself is only part of the fun; you get to try to suppress the symptoms over the next couple of days with various medicine knowing that you're only suppressing the symptoms.
Of course, if you don't spend an hour in a room full of smokers but only near a guy smoking a single cigarette, then maybe the only effect you'll feel is that of your lungs cramping up depending on the severity of your asthma.

That is NOT a pleasant feeling, and so I would like people to ASK if it's okay to light a smoke before they do so - in Denmark 10% of the population has asthma to some degree and I think it's safe to assume that it's about the same for the rest of the industrialized world.

This means that if one in ten asks you to please open the damn window it may not be just because they're hysterical health freaks but are planning on doing some breathing later in the day too.

Think about it.

#ifdef <flame.h>

I can only attribute wharfingers writeup to ignorance because it's not anything near witty enough to be called sarcasm - in short, write me down as offended :P


Wharfinger, I draw your attention to the case of well-loved British TV personality Roy Castle, who died a few years back from lung cancer. A life-long non-smoker, he had spent many years doing stand-up and the like in clubs, as a consequence of which he inhaled sufficient quantities of second-hand smoke to kill him. And of course, this is only a well-publicised case. The statistics are left as an exercise for the reader.

And if you feel you have a right to poison people with tobacco smoke, why draw the line there? Heck, let's just break out the asbestos dust and various other environmental contaminants.

Curiously enough, the world does not exist solely for your personal gratification. And passive smoking kills people all over the world, so take your rant against the American government somewhere where people will care.

Wharfinger: Thank you for taking the time out to rubbish my opinion. If we're going to talk about anecdotal evidence, how about this: your initial paragraph consists entirely of hyperbole and ad hominem comments. I had intended principally to highlight one case, one well-documented case, in which a person had died from lung cancer which was, in his case, almost indubitably caused by passive smoking. I strongly resent your use of the term 'religious dogma' to describe my views - indeed, it is my impression that this is intended to be ad hominem as well. And I did notice that you were talking about American society as a whole, but it seemed to be the government's health warning you objected to, because (shock! horror!) obeying it might lead you to be more considerate to others, so I made my reference to the government explicitly. After all, in the oldest democracy in the world, isn't the government merely a symptom of society?

And your quip about the rest of the world is simply crass, and arguably racist, joke or no joke.

Ahab: I take your point that the issue is not clear cut. However, the example I initially cited shows that there is a certain amount of evidence for my case. And in any case, smoking in public is both offensive and damaging to the health of others - even if only slightly.
Tiefling, I respect you point of view, but all you cite is anecdotal evidence. While cigarette smoke is the leading cause of lung cancer, there is more than one way to develop the disease. I also agree that asking those around you first before smoking up would be polite, but the smoker and property owner has rights too, as explained in point two. Below are two paragraphs from the appendix of For Your Own Good by Jacob Sullum of Reason Magazine.

Secondhand smoke poses a grave threat to bystanders.

The evidence concerning the health effects of secondhand smoke is not nearly as conclusive as the evidence concerning the health effects of smoking. The research suggests that people who live with smokers for decades may face a slightly higher risk of lung cancer. According to one estimate, a nonsmoking woman who lives with a smoker faces an additional lung cancer risk of 6.5 in 10,000, which would raise her lifetime risk from about 0.34 percent to about 0.41 percent. Studies of secondhand smoke and heart disease, including the results from the Harvard Nurses Study published in 1997, report more-dramatic increases in disease rates—so dramatic, in fact, that they are biologically implausible, suggesting risks comparable to those faced by smokers, despite the much lower doses involved. In any case, there is no evidence that casual exposure to secondhand smoke has any impact on your life expectancy.

If secondhand smoke really is dangerous, smoking ought to be banned everywhere, except in private residences.

Since almost all of the epidemiological evidence about the health effects of secondhand smoke relates to long-term exposure in the home, the fact that this is the one place exempted from current and proposed smoking bans suggests a residual concern for property rights. Yet business owners have property rights, too. If the government respected their right to establish rules about smoking on their own property, potential employees and customers could take such policies into account when deciding where to work or which businesses to patronize. Whether secondhand smoke is a health hazard or merely a nuisance, such a voluntary system is the most appropriate way to deal with the conflicting demands of smokers and nonsmokers, since it allows for diversity and competition, rather than simply imposing the will of the majority on everyone.
Assuming one trusts the motives of the American Cancer Society, here is what they have to say about second hand smoke (also known as Environmental Tobacco Smoke and/or ETS):

Secondhand smoke, or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), contains numerous human carcinogens for which there is no safe level of exposure. Scientific consensus groups have repeatedly reviewed the data on ETS. These include the US Environmental Protection Agency, California Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Institute of Environmental Sciences' National Toxicology Program. Public policies to protect people from secondhand smoke are based on the following detrimental effects of ETS.

Each year, about 3,000 nonsmoking adults die from lung cancer as a result of breathing secondhand smoke.
ETS causes an estimated 35,000 to 40,000 deaths from heart disease in people who are not current smokers.
ETS causes coughing, phlegm, chest discomfort, and reduced lung function in nonsmokers.
Each year, exposure to secondhand smoke causes 150,000 to 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections (such as pneumonia and bronchitis) in US children younger than 18 months of age. These infections result in 7,500 to 15,000 hospitalizations every year.
Secondhand smoke increases the number of asthma attacks and the severity of asthma in about 200,000 to 1 million asthmatic children.
Secondhand smoke contains over 4,000 substances, more than 40 of which are known or suspected to cause cancer in humans and animals and many of which are strong irritants.

This may be shouted down as anecdotal evidence, but it is undeniably the case that people who work in environments saturated with cigarette smoke have a much higher instance of health and respiratory ailments than those who do not work in such places.

Bartenders in New York City are at very high risk for bronchial ailments. I know of one specific example in which a bartender had to have part of a lung removed due to his exposure to second hand smoke.

This is one of the reasons that Smoke Free Workplace legislation is being discussed by the New York City city council. This is a labor issue; people should not be forced to accept high risk of lung cancer to earn a living (and don't give me any spurious crap about how "they don't have to work there").

It seems to me that those who dismiss the dangers of second hand smoke fall into that category of people who willfully deny that their actions and choices can have detrimental effects on others; the "I'm the only person in the world" syndrome.

Information from the American Cancer Society website.

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