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Blood tests reveal tobacco smoke residues in non-smoking New Yorkers
Date:4/8/2009

More than half of non-smoking New Yorkers have elevated levels of cotinine in their blood meaning that they were recently exposed to toxic second-hand smoke in concentrations high enough to leave residues in the body. Cotinine, a by-product of nicotine breakdown, is not harmful itself but signals exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. A Health Department study, published online this week in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, shows that 57% of adult New Yorkers (2.5 million) have elevated cotinine levels, compared to 45% of adults nationwide a finding that may reflect the city's dense, urban character. Second-hand smoke contains many harmful chemicals. It is known to cause cancer and heart disease in adults, as well as serious health problems for children.

The data come from the New York City Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which was conducted in 2004, one year after New York City's smoke-free air law took effect. Although the law protects non-smokers from the dangers of second-hand smoke at work and in some public places, this study shows that many non-smokers are not fully protected. Creating a smoke-free home is the most important step that New Yorkers can take to protect their families.

"Tobacco smoke is a toxic pollutant," said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, New York City Health Commissioner. "Most New York City non-smokers are breathing in dangerous chemicals in second-hand smoke, potentially increasing the risk of cancer and heart disease. Households with a smoker should set a 'no smoking' policy at home to protect the family. We encourage all New Yorkers who smoke to quit this is the best way to protect yourself and others."

"The study provides more evidence of the pervasiveness of second-hand smoke," said Jennifer Ellis, PhD, a former Health Department epidemiologist and the study's lead author. "It's not clear why New Yorkers experience more exposure, despite the city's relatively low smoking rate. It m
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Contact: Jessica Scaperotti
pressoffice@health.nyc.gov
212-788-5290
New York City Health Department
Source:Eurekalert

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