Does third-hand smoke pose a risk to young children?

A short article in the Daily Mirror today, reporting on a presentation at a conference in Dallas, made the claim that third-hand smoke could pose a "serious health risk especially to babies".

To put this new research into context we contacted Cancer Research UK. Dr Claire Knight, CRUK’s health information manager, said: “It’s been known for many decades that smoking causes disease and death but research continues to reveal just how dangerous the chemicals in cigarettes are. Thirdhand smoke – where chemicals from tobacco smoke stick to surfaces and remain long after a cigarette is finished – has been shown to damage the DNA in cells in the lab. Although we don’t yet know the impact on people in the real world, evidence is beginning to show that thirdhand smoke could potentially be harmful. Smoking is responsible for nearly a fifth of all cancer cases in the UK and is by far the biggest preventable cause of cancer. The best thing a smoker can do for their health is to quit. The evidence is clear that quitting benefits smokers and those around them.”

5 Replies

  • doll found that those who smoked 5 cigarettes or less had the same propensity to cancer of lung as non-smokers makes it unlikely that there is any risk from third hand smoking unless one inhaled the equvalent of smoking 5 cigarettes. its far fetched nonsense.

  • The Daily Mail made more of this topic in their more sensational coverage, with the title:

    Third hand smoke - the sticky brown residue on smokers' walls and furniture - could be even MORE dangerous for children than passive smoking, warn experts

    And the whole thing is an extension of a 2010 piece of research also from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory:

  • This IS the Daily Mail remember!!!! There are many who doubt the validity of the second-hand smoke theory, let alone third hand - I make no judgement on that though I have seen the figures. There is so much hysteria on the subject and yet they are quite happy to use deceased smokers' lungs for human transplant - go figure!

  • I imagine there are a range of complex environmental factors at play - these days the only places a child is going to be exposed to 3rd hand smoke is probably only private residences and cars - and people who choose to smoke in their houses / cars are probably at the lower end of socioeconomic spectrum, so there may be other confounders at work

    I love all the DM comments, my gran smoked all her life and she lived to be 90 - yeah, because your other grandparents who died at the age of 50 aren't around to talk about it

  • Don't confuse real science with junk science Chris. Check out Dr Michael Siegels blog (The Rest of the Story) for his take on the third hand smoke scam.

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