Worldwide, 40% of women are exposed to secondhand smoke regularly. Secondhand smoke doesn’t only make us sick, it’s killing us. Women make up 47% of the 600,000 annual secondhand smoke deaths throughout the world, compared to 26% men.
I always found secondhand smoke irritating but I never knew how dangerous it is until I started working in tobacco control. I didn’t know this toxic substance can actually trigger cardiac events in people with heart disease or that even low levels are harmful.
The majority of the secondhand smoke complaint calls I take as part of my job are from women. They usually call because secondhand smoke is drifting from a neighboring apartment or condominium. Many of the women and their children have health issues that are being made worse by the smoke. They are literally trapped in their homes with toxic fumes. They call me because they don’t know what to do.
The World Health Organization and the U.S. Surgeon General have determined that the most effective way to protect people from secondhand smoke is through secondhand smoke protections policies. Despite this, only 7.4% of the world lives in jurisdictions with comprehensive smoke-free laws. In California, the state law protects people in a few places including most indoor workplaces. In the last ten years, an increasing number of local communities are adding even more protections. Read More