Passive Smoking is a general catch-all phrase that attempts to describe the adsorption or absorption of the by-products of smoking by people and/or things other than the active smoker, usually with alleged deleterious effects.
For example, in the case of Second Hand Smoke, smoke from both the end of a lit cigarette, and that exhaled by the active smoker, may be inhaled by near-by people, or may settle on inanimate objects directly near-by.
In the case of Third Hand Smoke, the by-products that settle on inanimate objects that subsequently metamorphoses into other by-products.
No-one, yet, has seriously accused 'Fourth Hand Smoke' of causing harm, though it has been half-jokenly referred to as, among other things:
- smoke exposure resulting from being in the presence of someone who themselves was in the presence of a smoker.
- when a person is forced to listen to someone complaining about how their friend’s clothes smelled of smoke from being at a bar the night before
- the presence in the family home, domicile or dwelling place (this includes motor vehicles some of which retain mobility) of unopened, un-smoked cigarettes contained in a pack, or individual cigarettes bought from less than reputable corner stores that are contained in re-sealable Ziploc bags
Higher degrees of smokiness, have predictably been cited, usually in the same manner as Fourth Hand Smoke above.
On a more serious note, most mention of secondary smoke, when referred to by the anti-smokers, is usually accompanied by grisly descriptions of what may/will/has happened to 'victims' of it. These descriptions are usually worse than the symptoms attributable to 'First Hand Smoke,' somehow implying that the effects of SHS are of an order worse and totally different.
For example, one piece of research claimed that while a smoker may have a 15% increased chance of some hearing loss over a non-smoker, a second-hand smoker would have double that increased chance (28%). The research concerned did not proffer any evidence to show why this may be, but did provide some speculation. The fact that the research was poorly conducted was not offered as a possible explanation however.
That the smoker themselves is also exposed to this second/third/fourth hand smoke, as well as the first hand smoke, and seem to suffer none of these effects is casually not mentioned.
Sadly, while there are few, if any, documented cases of people seriously suffering from SHS (asthma suffers susceptible to 'smoke' are susceptible to a lot of things for example) there are quite a few documented cases of people dying or suffering severe injury due do policies put in place to 'protect' people from SHS.
Second Hand Smoke
No-one has died from SHS.
Despite all the articles you can find on the web citing the horrors of second hand smoke, not one person has had SHS cited as the reason for death.
Mario Labate's widow, despite his working in an office for 29 years exposed to a large amount of secondhand tobacco smoke, and subsequently died from lung cancer, failed to get the cause of death recorded as SHS, with the court recording:
The BMA on Second Hand Smoke
In 2011, the BMA released a briefing paper with the shocking revelation that
So, even opening the windows while driving along, definitely results in 23 times more smoke hanging around than in a smoky pub. Fortunately, someone spotted that the 23x number was beyond even silly, and the BMA issued a correction:
Not much better, but that 'could be up to' does include numbers between 0 and 1 such as
Or less than 1% of that found in a smoky bar.
Scotland on Second Hand Smoke
On being asked via FoI request for "d) All information on actual deaths in Scotland attributable to Second Hand Smoke otherwise known as “Passive Smoking” , "Sidestream Smoke" or “Environmental Tobacco Smoke” from the years 2000 - 2009," Mary Cuthbert, Head of Tobacco, Sexual Health and HIV Policy, replied (emphasis added):
And for "e) all information held on “Third Hand Smoke,” replied:
Second hand smoke crosses the placenta
Seriously. Apparently. According to, it would appear from reports, Julia Dratva, a doctor at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute:
Quite how this sort of pseudo-science gets published is somewhat annoying - smoke cannot pass between mother and baby in utero, via the placenta or by any other method known to science. Unfortunately, the exact source of this statement is unclear, since Ms. Dratva is not quoted directly and (at the time of writing) all articles referring to it are copy/pasted - a phenomenon known as churnalism.
Passiv rygning giver ikke kræft (Passive smoking does not cause cancer)
Third Hand Smoke
Third hand smoke is what is left behind after a cigarette has been extinguished, for example the non-consumed nicotine and other components of smoke that tend to settle on surfaces, or the smell of smoke on a smoker's clothes. Arguments that it is as noxious, or even more so, than primary or secondary smoke is defended with statements such as
Suggestions have been made that people believing this should test this by performing an experiment along the lines of:
- 10 smokers should be given 10 cigarettes each and all should be placed into a garage with the door closed, invited to smoke all their cigarettes within 2 hours
- 10 anti-smokers should be placed in a garage with the door closed, with a running vehicle, for 2 hours
After the two hours have passed, the two garages should be opened to see how many of the 20 participants are still conscious/alive.
The point being made here, is that those making the comparison are assuming the same volumes of noxious substances are produced per unit time, when in reality cigarettes produce magnitudes less of whatever it is they're comparing to that coming out of vehicles.
Articles, and scientists, espousing the alleged highly toxic nature of third hand smoke generally pad out their prose with weasel words such as "may," "might," "probably," "can."
This one seems to indicate that actually performing basic housekeeping duties such as cleaning surfaces were suspended during this questionable study..
Abuse of small numbers is also not beyond those touting FUD
The presumed shock-horror facet here relies on the implicit and unnoticed by the audience assumption that there is some large base-level of nicotine present in an ex-nonsmoker's home, and that the amount in the ex-smoker's home is 7-8 times this large base-level.
Presumably, however, the amount of nicotine in an ex-nonsmoker's home is likely to be miniscule to non-existent. And 7 or 8 times a miniscule number (or zero) is still miniscule (or zero.)
- Article Warns of Dangers of "Fourth-hand" Smoke - The Rest of the Story: Tobacco News Analysis and Commentary
- 4th Hand Smoke Found to be Cause of Ear Cancer - Holy Juan Blog
- Third-Hand Smoke? Beware the Dangers of Fourth-hand Smoke - The Shark Guys blog
- Cigarette Smoking, Passive Smoking, Alcohol Consumption, and Hearing Loss - Harridanic
- Name Three - Dave Hitt
- F-77/07 DEP - Labate v Commission - InfoCuria
- CORRECTION TO BMA briefing paper: Smoking in vehicles - BMA
- [http:// http://www.bmj.com/content/326/7398/1057 Environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality in a prospective study of Californians, 1960-98] - BMJ
- ASH Scotland opens page on research into third-hand smoke - Freedom-2-Choose; Scotland (Anonymous comment to article)
- Young Smokers Risk Cardio Disease From Artery Damage, Study Says - Bloomberg
- Study: Passive Smoking Doesn’t Cause Cancer- Frank Davis
- Can You Sue Over 'Thirdhand Smoke' Exposure? - How Stuff Works
- What is third-hand smoke? Is it hazardous? - Scientific American
- Comments of the Day (Observer) - Dick Puddlecote blog
- Toxic chemicals linger long after a smoker moves out - NBC
- A Casino goes smoke free: a longitudinal study of secondhand and thirdhand smoke pollution and exposure - BMJ