New study shows secondhand smoke heart risk twice previous estimates

Wednesday 30 June 2004

ASH MEDIA RELEASE: Embargo – 00.01hrs Wednesday 30th June 2004



New research suggests that exposure to secondhand smoke can increase the risk of contracting coronary heart disease (CHD) by 50% to 60% – twice previous estimates. The difference may be mainly due to previous studies concentrating on exposure to secondhand smoke in the home, rather than all exposure including that at work and in public places.


Researchers at St George’s Hospital Medical School and the Royal Free UCL Medical School examined the links between blood cotinine levels and risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke in 4,729 men from 18 British towns. The men were monitored for 20 years. Higher concentrations of blood cotinine levels among the non-smokers were associated with a 50-60% greater risk of CHD. In earlier partner smoking studies, passive smoking is associated with a 25-30% increased risk.


The full paper is at:


Deborah Arnott, Director of Action on Smoking and Health, commented:


“This important study provides yet more evidence of the serious health risks posed by secondhand smoke. It suggests that if you regularly breathe in other people’s smoke at home or at work your chances of getting heart disease may rise by more than a half. This is a much bigger increase in risk than was previously thought – and the difference with previous estimates seems mainly due to smoking in the workplace.


This study follows work by Professor Konrad Jamrozik of Imperial College which suggests that exposure to secondhand smoke at work may cause about 700 premature deaths in the UK each year, three times as many deaths as are caused by all industrial accidents.


It is time for the tobacco industry and its front organisations to stop pretending that secondhand smoke is harmless. And it is time for the Government to accept the need for a new law to end smoking in the workplace.”


– ENDS –


CONTACT:             Ian Willmore         020 7739 5902 (w) 07887 641344 (m)