Release 97-27

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                               CONTACT:         Jerry Martin
October 23, 1997                                                                                   Allan Hirsch
                                                                                                                 (916) 322-2990
                                                                                                                 Ken August,
                                                                                                                 Dept. of Health Services
                                                                                                                 (916) 657-3064

Environmental Tobacco Smoke Report Forwarded to Department of Health Services

        SACRAMENTO - The Air Resources Board (ARB) today accepted the "Health Effects of Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke" (ETS or secondhand smoke) report, which was prepared by ARB and the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA).

        ARB Chairman John Dunlap said, "This action sets the tone for California's position on Environmental Tobacco Smoke."

        Following today's action, the ETS report was forwarded to the California Department of Health Services (DHS) Tobacco Control Program for appropriate action under their mandate as the state's lead agency for addressing public health effects related to tobacco use. DHS is expected to include the report in future evaluation of potential management strategies of ETS. "While ARB has the authority to identify compounds as toxic air contaminants, it does not have the authority to regulate indoor air pollution," Dunlap added.

        The report is the most comprehensive ever to identify the health effects of secondhand smoke and focuses on how Californians are exposed to secondhand smoke at home, at work and in public places. The report is the culmination of six years of work by OEHHA and the independent Scientific Review Panel (SRP) on Toxic Air Contaminants, and included seven draft reports, public comment periods and workshops. In addition, this report bolsters DHS' extensive media campaign to inform all Californians of the danger of smoking and secondhand smoke.

        Secondhand smoke is a complex mixture formed from the escaping smoke of tobacco products and smoke exhaled by the user. Its characteristics change as it ages and combines with other compounds in ambient air. ETS has been found to be a critical source of exposure to toxic air contaminants indoors with some exposures also occurring outdoors. Significant findings include the correlation of indoor exposure to secondhand smoke and low birthweight and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), in addition to bronchitis, pneumonia, the induction and exacerbation of asthma and middle ear infections in children. In adults, ETS has been identified as a source of lung and nasal sinus cancer, eye and nasal irritation and spontaneous abortion, as well as aggravation of cystic fibrosis, decreased pulmonary function and cervical cancer.

        The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.

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