Public health officials have determined that secondhand cigarette smoke causes disease including lung cancer and heart disease in non-smoking adults. They have also concluded that secondhand smoke —the combination of the smoke coming from the lit end of a cigarette plus the smoke exhaled by a smoker —can exacerbate adult asthma and cause eye, throat and nasal irritation.
In children, secondhand smoke can cause conditions such as asthma, respiratory infections, cough, wheeze, middle ear infections and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Philip Morris USA agrees that people should be able to avoid being around secondhand smoke, particularly in places where they must go, such as public buildings, public transportation and many areas in the workplace. The company also believes that:
- The public should be guided by the conclusions of public health officials regarding the health effects of secondhand smoke when deciding whether to be in places where secondhand smoke is present.
- Particular care should be exercised where children are concerned. Adults should avoid smoking around children.
- The conclusions of public health officials concerning environmental tobacco smoke are sufficient to warrant certain measures that regulate smoking.
- Where smoking is permitted, the government should require warning notices that communicate public health officials' conclusions that secondhand smoke causes disease in non-smokers.
Position on smoking restrictions
There are places where smoking should not be permitted at all, such as elevators, places where a specific fire hazard already exists, or areas occupied primarily by children, such as playgrounds, schools and daycare facilities.
Complete bans go too far:
- Smoking should be permitted outdoors except in very particular circumstances, such as outdoor areas primarily designed for children.
- In many indoor public places, reasonable ways exist to respect the comfort and choices of both non-smoking and smoking adults.
- Business owners – particularly owners of restaurants and bars – are most familiar with how to accommodate the needs of their patrons and should have the opportunity and flexibility to determine their own smoking policy. The public can then choose whether or not to frequent places where smoking is permitted.
- In indoor public places where smoking is permitted, business owners should have the flexibility to decide how best to address the preferences of non-smokers and smokers through separation, separate rooms and/or high-quality ventilation.
- Owners of private residences and other private places should determine the smoking policy for that particular location.
Altria's tobacco operating companies support three websites: