Who is a passive smoker?
It is someone who, without voluntarily smoking, breathes air contaminated by tobacco smoke, including smoke both exhaled by the smokers around them, and by the result of the combustion of cigarettes.
Does being a passive smoker represent health risks?
Yes, many. The relationship between certain diseases and the health conditions of passive smokers are scientifically proven. The WHO (World Health Organization) considers air contaminated by tobacco smoke as a carcinogen (a substance that causes cancer).
What diseases are related to being a passive smoker?
Respiratory conditions, cardiovascular diseases, eye diseases, various types of cancer, etc. Check the «news articles» section to learn more about this.
Is any sector of the population more vulnerable than others because of the effects of air contaminated by tobacco smoke?
Yes, children (including unborn), the elderly, people with lung transplants, people with respiratory conditions (asthma, bronchitis, COPD …), eye diseases (such as ‘dry eyes’ ), allergies, sick people of all kinds …
Are there official statistics in Spain on mortality that cause diseases related to the condition of passive smokers?
The Ministry of Health, provides data in this regard in its reports to the General Courts to assess the impact on public health of the law which are in line with studies in this regard. About 3,000 passive smokers die annually in Spain according to the latest 2017 study published by researchers from the Public Health Agency of Barcelona (ASPB) and the Network of Research Centers in Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP). In a disaggregated manner, a total of 124 deaths from lung cancer or 904 from cardiovascular diseases were found, which ultimately reached 2964, taking into account the rest of the associated factors and diseases. On the other hand, tobacco causes more than 50,000 deaths annually in our country, considering the active smoking population. On a larger scale, an annual loss of about 70,000 people is estimated at the European Union level according to data published on the European Commission’s website.
Are the smoking bans of current legislation respected in Spain?
According to a study conducted by the OCU (Organization of Consumers and Users), published in August 2015, generalized compliance is maintained in interior spaces as well as the great support of citizens to the law. However, the weakest point is the lower compliance on the terraces of the hospitality premises and in the open spaces of the educational and health centers. Thus, according to the study, 87% of the terraces visited did not comply with the smoking ban, even reaching 89% in hospitals. Likewise, a study carried out in the hospitality industry of Madrid by the University of Alcalá de Henares at the end of 2016 shows that in almost 80% of the premises there were signs of tobacco consumption in its entrances and in 95% in its terraces. Almost 80% of the terraces do not compliance with the regulations that ban smoking on those terraces with roofs and more than two lateral walls.[CC1]
Does the tobacco industry warn its customers that air contaminated by tobacco smoke seriously affects the health of non-smokers?
The tobacco industry has been characterized by hiding this information and, against overwhelming scientific evidence, minimizes the harmful effects that environmental tobacco smoke has among those who do not smoke.
Apart from the harmful effects on health, does being a passive smoker have other problems?
Yes. Passive smokers are exposed to the bad smell of tobacco, which quickly permeates clothing and hair. In this sense, some studies speak of «third-hand» smoke and that it would be formed by pollutants from smoke residues present in clothing. This issue is particularly important in those mothers or fathers who do not smoke in the presence of their children but who usually have them in their arms, for example. Butts, which are so often thrown to the ground, represent a serious problem of both public and environmental hygiene. They are one of the most common forms of waste in our towns and cities and are highly polluting aquifers.
Frequently, smokers justify not quitting smoking in public places by arguing that cars also pollute cities. How to respond to this?
It is not very logical to be aware of the risks of environmental pollution and to ignore that tobacco is one of the products that pollutes the most in the individual environment, both by smoke and by the garbage it produces. On the other hand, in infotabaquismo.com (a service of GlaxoSmithKline) literally ensures that «the person who smokes, when inhaling tobacco smoke, introduces into his lungs toxic concentrations 400 times higher than the maximum tolerated in industrial plants that withstand greater environmental pollution. The accumulation of carbon monoxide in the air exhaled by a smoker is between 30 and 50 times higher than that of a person who does not smoke and lives in a city subject to high levels of air pollution. »If you are interested in this matter, you can read a story about how tobacco smoke seems to be more harmful than diesel car emissions in the ‘Newspaper articles’ section.
In this struggle between those who defend their right to health and their right to consume tobacco, who has the right to win?
Undoubtedly, those who defend our right to live without tobacco smoke. It’s a matter of time. More and more developed countries are adding themselves to the list of countries that prohibit tobacco use in ALL public places. So far the main European countries and others from different parts of the world have already banned the consumption of tobacco in these places. There are numerous examples, including countries such as Ireland, Norway, Italy, France, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Mexico, Uruguay, etc.
Could you summarize the main points of Law 42/2010 and what modifications have you introduced in Law 28/2005?
The Ministry of Health, Social Policy and Equality has issued an informative document that answers that question.
Are electronic cigarettes safe? Do they help you quit smoking?
Neither the safety of these devices nor their usefulness to quit smoking has been demonstrated: Electronic cigarettes, fashionable – Electronic cigarette: not for quitting smoking – CNPT report on electronic cigarettes