"Our organization has been receiving complaints for years about people smoking in bus shelters, at stops along the transitway, and even about drivers smoking in buses while on break. Our members have written letters of complaint to OC Transpo, so we're really pleased to know they have been listening and are taking it seriously," said Pippa Beck, President of the Ottawa Council on Smoking and Health.
Second-hand smoke (SHS) is a toxic mix of over 4,000 chemicals. The 2006 U.S. Surgeon General's report confirms that scientific evidence indicates there is no risk-free level of exposure. In 1992 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classified SHS as a "Class A carcinogen," a category reserved for dangerous chemicals known to cause cancer in humans. In 2005 the California Environmental Protection Agency classified SHS as a "toxic air contaminant."
Public recognition of the danger of exposure to SHS is great, and acceptance of the need for smoke-free environments is high. There is a growing appetite for more smoke-free environments, including outdoor public places. The scientific evidence to support smoking bans in some outdoor environments, like crowded transit stops and platforms, is also growing. One recent study found that under certain weather conditions, outdoor concentrations of SHS can be high, presenting a nuisance or even a hazard.
"This is simply part of an evolution based on our understanding of the health risks and the concomitant social norm change," said Ms. Beck. "We don't have to accept exposure to SHS in public places and workplaces, and now we won't have to accept it while waiting for the bus, either."
Contact: Pippa Beck, President, Ottawa Council on Smoking and Health
613.230.4211 or 613.722.6187