If you are a union construction worker, you can protect those you love. Your children can get regular health care because you have medical coverage. You've learned to protect yourself and your family from toxic exposures on the job through health and safety training in apprenticeship and journeyman upgrade classes.
Now a new workplace toxic has officially been designated: secondhand tobacco smoke. In January the California Air Resources Board listed secondhand smoke as a "toxic air contaminant" - the same as car and diesel exhaust. You're no doubt aware that tobacco smoke causes cancer and heart disease. But the Air Resource's Board's report emphasizes new dangers to those we love from secondhand smoke:
*** Breast cancer in young women is now linked to secondhand smoke. Studies show that exposure to tobacco smoke increases the risk of breast cancer 70 to 125% among pre-menopausal women.
*** Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is linked to tobacco smoke. New studies show that SIDS is more common when babies are exposed to secondhand smoke. Parents who smoke more than a pack a day are almost twice as likely to lose a child to SIDS.
*** Breathable secondhand smoke particles in a smoker's car are up to 10 times higher than in their homes.
"Californians, especially parents, would not willingly fill their homes with motor vehicle exhaust, and they should feel the same way about tobacco smoke," said the director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA). Protect those you love. If you can't quit smoking, then smoke outside of your house and car.
For Free Confidential Help Call
The California Smokers Helpline
Source: "Proposed Identification of Environmental Tobacco Smoke as a Toxic Air Contaminant," California Environmental Protection Agency, June 25, 2005