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Is secondhand smoke part of your job description? 18 January 2006

    Health Promotion (Department of Health and Social Security) and Environmental Health are raising awareness of the dangers of secondhand smoke in the workplace with a hard hitting campaign.

    The campaign aims to inform people about the harmful components of cigarette smoke and encourage more establishments to go smoke free for the health of their employees and patrons. Evidence showing that inhalation of secondhand tobacco smoke causes ill health and kills people. Secondhand smoke is classified as a Group 1 (or Class A) carcinogen (cancer causing), which is the same level as asbestos.

    Exposure to secondhand smoke at work is estimated to cause the death of up to 10 Manx workers each year. People employed in the Hospitality Industry have an increased risk, due to their exposure to secondhand smoke. People working in smoky atmospheres such as pubs, bars and restaurants are particularly at risk, as the smoke at the burning tip of a cigarette (sidestream smoke) contains higher levels of toxins than smoke inhaled and exhaled by the smoker (mainstreams smoke). Sidestream smoke makes up about 85% of the smoke in a room.

    The chemicals found in sidestream smoke create a major source of indoor air pollution and include arsenic, carbon monoxide, ammonia and formaldehyde – and most of these cant be seen or smelt. The likelihood of exposure to secondhand smoke rises for those people who work in the hospitality industry, e.g. those who work in a pub, club or bar with a smoky atmosphere. It is no surprise then that if you are exposed to sidestream smoke that complaints such as itchy eyes, irritated throat and difficulties with breathing are common place. These are just the immediate effects of the smoke, other long term dangers to health include cancer and heart disease.

    This new campaign already has the support of the Isle of Man Medical Society, Council of Cancer Charities, Isle of Man Anti-Cancer Association, Cardiac Rehabilitation, Isle of Man Pharmacy Contractors’ Association, Manx Heart Support Group, Manx Asthma Association, Lung Cancer Fund-Isle of Man and many establishments that are already totally smoke free.

    For more information about the awareness campaign, or for information and support to enable your business to become totally smoke free contact the Smoke Free Mann Coordinator on 642592.

    18th January 2006

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