2006 Surgeon General's Report Sound Bites Transcript

June 27, 2006

Sound Bites: Richard Carmona, Surgeon General

Soundbites from Vice Admiral Richard Carmona, Surgeon General of the United States in regards to secondhand smoke and the release of the Surgeon General’s report, The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke:

The impact of secondhand smoke is that secondhand smoke is dangerous to all people. It can cause cancer, it can cause lung disease, and there is no safe amount of secondhand smoke.

I think the most important finding in this report is that secondhand smoke does harm you. There are no safe limits of secondhand smoke. And there’s no way to easily remove secondhand smoke from your environment. Even if you use filters and fans and things like that, you’re still exposed to some of these toxic chemicals and irritants that can cause disease, both acutely and chronically.

Children are in a special category, though, because they are growing and developing as they are being exposed to these tobacco products. Science shows that exposure to tobacco products can harm your lung development, can cause asthma, can cause chronic problems as you grow that’ll be with you the rest of your life. And this is a child, of course, that we want to nurture, to grow, and be able to fill their full potential, and they won’t be able to if they’re surrounded by smoke.

Another area where we speak of vulnerability is a mom who’s pregnant because as she smokes you have to assume the baby’s smoking also. So those toxic chemicals, that smoke, gets into the uterus, and can affect growth and development of a baby and make them more susceptible to disease later like asthma. It can also be a cause of sudden infant death syndrome, so it’s real important that moms realize that it’s not only themselves they need to be concerned with; it’s the baby that’s growing inside of them.

Well, the dangers of secondhand smoke in the workplace are like anyplace else. People who don’t want to be exposed to those tobacco products are exposed to them. We know that they can cause everything from cancer to pulmonary disease, besides causing irritation just on a daily basis. So they are subjected to toxic substances that they otherwise would not be subjected to.