Breath of Fresh Air

By Sarah Garcia - April 02, 2019

Walt Disney World announced a new policy last week which will eliminate smoking areas and prohibit smoking inside of their theme parks. The ban applies to their domestic theme parks, water parks and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex beginning May 1, 2019.

The resort joins a growing number of organizations to implement smoke-free policies in an effort to curb or eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke. According to the National Cancer Institute, secondhand smoke contains many of the same harmful chemicals that are in the smoke inhaled by smokers, including some that cause cancer.

Dr. David Drobes, associate director of the Tobacco Research and Intervention Program at Moffitt.

“Approximately 3,400 lung cancer deaths each year (in the U.S.) among nonsmokers are caused by secondhand smoke,” said Dr. David Drobes, associate director of the Tobacco Research and Intervention Program at Moffitt. “Breast, nasopharyngeal, nasal sinus cavity, and cervical forms of cancer may also be caused by secondhand smoke, but the evidence is not as clear as for lung cancer.”

A 2006 U.S. Surgeon General report concluded that there is no level of exposure to secondhand smoke that can be deemed risk-free.

Even brief exposure to secondhand smoke, such as that encountered in a public setting, can be very harmful. “For instance, research has shown that those at risk for a heart attack are more likely to experience one immediately after breathing in secondhand smoke,” said Dr. Drobes.

Drobes added that policies that prohibit smoking in public places have clear cut benefits to the general population beyond decreasing exposure to the harmful chemicals contained in cigarette smoke.  “Such policies also make smoking less socially acceptable, and this can help lower rates of smoking across society,” he said.

Smoking rates have declined substantially over the last two decades, which Dr. Drobes said can be attributed in part to smoke-free policies and ordinances, along with other public policies, the availability of effective methods for smoking cessation, and increased availability and usage of alternative tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes.

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