Lesser known and minor effects of active smoking on non-smokers

  • M. Whidden
Conference paper


Major reviews of the scientific literature on the effects of passive smoking have tended to focus on the obvious ones or on risks related to its most important effects. For example, the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (1992) review looked at respiratory diseases only. Besides, passive smoking is usually defined as ‘breathing in’ environmental tobacco smoke; but this is not the only way that non-smokers can be exposed to the harmful constituents of tobacco smoke. For instance, the eyes of non- smokers are exposed to irritating chemicals in smoke even if the non-smokers do not inhale the smoke. The uterine cervix is exposed to harmful constituents of tobacco smoke delivered during sexual intercourse in the semen of a smoking male; his fingers may introduce harmful tobacco-smoke constituents into the vaginal canal during sex. Foetuses are exposed to high concentrations of tobacco-smoke poisons from maternal smoking during pregnancy. In this presentation, therefore, I shall not just use the term ‘passive smoking’, but shall also use the broader term, ‘forced exposure to the constituents of tobacco smoke’ (FECTS). Please note, however, that this term does not include the harm done to non-smokers by the many thousands of fires caused by cigarettes around the world or to the toddlers who are accidentally poisoned when they ingest tobacco, as in cigarette butts.


Tobacco Smoke United States Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Tobacco Smoke Maternal Smoking Passive Smoking 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Whidden
    • 1
  1. 1.Association for Nonsmokers’ RightsBerkshireUK

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