By Ashleigh Fielding | posted on September 6, 2019
SMOKERS are being warned their second-hand smoke increases the chance of non-smokers developing heart disease by up to 30 per cent among other diseases, as it is more toxic than the smoke they inhale.
A push for the ban of smoking follows State Health Minister Roger Cook’s announcement last week of furthering the Make Smoking History campaign for another three years, with a $2.3 million funding allocation.
Cancer Council WA Regional Education Officer Great Southern Bruce Beamish said there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke and that it can adversely affect both individuals and workplaces immediately upon exposure.
“Side-stream smoke is made at lower temperatures than mainstream smoke,” he said.
“As a result, it contains a higher amount of some toxins compared to the smoke being inhaled by the smoker.
“Some of these toxins in second-hand smoke are smaller than those being inhaled by the smoker – this means the smoke can go deeper into the lungs and is more toxic.”
Mr Beamish said although it may take time to achieve a completely smoke-free workplace, making smokers aware of their habit’s impact on others is a step in the right direction.
“In addition to meeting the legal obligations and eliminating the risk of prosecution for non-compliance, a smoke-free workplace policy can promote a healthy corporate image, increase productivity, reduce absenteeism from illness caused by smoking and passive smoking, and reduce the risk of litigation and compensation costs resulting from passive smoking-caused illness,” he said.
“Smokers have substantially greater absenteeism, injuries and accidents than non-smokers, are thought to be less productive and suffer 40 per cent more occupational injuries than non-smokers.
“Smokers, even when they step outside, are magnets for 250 poisonous gases, chemicals and metals in cigarette fumes.
“When they head back into their homes or workplaces, they carry those toxins with them.”
Mr Beamish reiterated that smoking is not allowed within five metres of a public entrance to an enclosed public place and within 10m of air-conditioning intakes.
Existing restrictions on smoking inside enclosed public places mean that smokers are required to smoke outdoors.
“Problems arise when smokers cluster around building entrances and exits, and near air conditioning intake vents to smoke,” he said.
“People entering and exiting the building are exposed to environmental tobacco smoke and there may be problems with smoke drift into indoor smoke-free areas.
“Second-hand smoke increases your risk of experiencing short-term and long-term health issues – such as lung cancer, heart disease and stroke – and has been linked to the on- set of adulthood asthma, poorer mental health and a cause of early death.”
Mr Beamish encouraged all workplaces to hang posters about the hazards of smoking, supply Quitline brochures to staff and join the Healthier Workplaces program to achieve a completely smoke-free workplace.