New passive smoking study shows alarming stroke risks to non-smokers

Tuesday 17 August 1999
ASH/ Press releases/

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Press releaseTuesday 17th August 1999
Embargo: 00:01

Action on Smoking and Health

New passive smoking study shows alarmingstroke risks to non-smokers

Passive smoking exposure at home or workincreases the risk of stroke in non-smokers by 82% in men and 66% in women. Given thatstroke is a very common condition, this means passive smoking is having a serious healthimpact on non-smokers. The study is based on research conducted in New Zealand andpublished in the British Medical Journal specialist publication, Tobacco Control[1].

Clive Bates, Director of ASH, said: <fontface=”times new=”” roman,=”” times”=”” size=”3″>”this is more evidence that passive smokinghits blood circulation especially hard. It is far worse than the passive smoking cancerrisk and is likely to affect many more people.”

Even though, passive smokers typically take inaround one percent of the smoke of an active smoker, this study suggests passivesmokers face about a seventh of the excess risk of stroke of an active smoker. Thisis in line with findings on the passive smoking risk of heart disease published in 1997[2].

Clive Bates said: <fontface=”times new=”” roman,=”” times”=”” size=”3″>”There appears to be a non-linear effectwhereby small exposures to tobacco smoke give a relatively high risk of cardio-vascularand circulatory illness.”

“This study underlines the importanceof official proposals to apply the Health and Safety at Work Act to passive smoking atwork. Prolonged passive smoking exposure is not a trivial risk and workers need properlegal protection.” said Bates.

[1] Bonita R. et al, Passive smoking as wellas active smoking increases the risk of acute stroke, Tobacco Control. 1999;8:156-160. Available at

[2] The passive smoking odds ratio (average men+women) 1.74. The active smoking odds ratiois 6.66.

[3] Law MR, Morris JK, Wald NJ. Environmental tobacco smoke exposure and ischaemic heartdisease, BMJ 1997; 315: 973-80.


Contact Clive Bates, Director (020) 7739 5902

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