After courts and commentators have wrestled with the dangers of second-hand smoke, it appears that there is now third-hand smoke: the smell that lingers on smokers when they come back into a house or office. Experts are warning that third-hard smoke can be harmful — a finding that might move businesses to get rid of smoking areas outside of buildings.
We are not yet at the point to have chemical showers and hazmat tents for smokers coming back into buildings. However, the recent campaign on third-hand smoke might push some companies to reexamine their policies and even bar smokers entirely from employment.
Experts are warning that smokers bring back heavy metals, carcinogens and even radioactive materials after smoking and create a particular danger to young children.
The term “third-hand smoke” was coined by doctors at MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Boston and the study was published in this month’s issue of the journal Pediatrics.
It is not clear if we are on the verge of establishing “fourth-hand smoke”: the residue of smoking left on contact with people who have been near people who have smoked.
These studies have a legal impact. Some companies have already moved to bar any smokers from employment, including some government offices. Workers have been told that they can be fired for smoking at home, here. This study will certainly give such companies added arguments for imposing such exclusionary policies. This follows legal moves to compel fragrance free zones.
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