Vancouver Coastal Health submitted the following letter to the editor to the National Post and the Vancouver Sun, in response to an article published May 22 called Smoking down the slopes.
I need to clarify some of the statements that were made about smoking in your in May 22 editorial, “Banning smoking on the slopes makes little sense”.
There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke. Ample evidence proves that second-hand smoke exposure in outdoor environments can be comparable to the amount of exposure in indoor environments (Klepeis et al., 2007; Cameron et al., 2010; Baptiste et al., 2011; Kaufman et al., 2011; and Wilson et al., 2011). Studies show that second-hand smoke contains carcinogens and can lead to disease and premature death in children and non-smoking adults (U.S. Surgeon General, 2006). Second-hand smoke is a carcinogen and contains more than 50 cancer-causing chemicals. Even brief exposure to second-hand smoke has immediate adverse effects and increases risk for heart disease and lung cancer (U.S. Surgeon General, 2006).
Smoking bans in public places decrease tobacco consumption, reduce serious health-related hospital admissions, increase quit attempts, lengthen the time between relapse, and boost quit rates (Centre for Addiction Research BC, 2006).
E-cigarettes are included in this ban because they produce a second-hand vapour which can contain nicotine, propylene glycol (a respiratory irritant), and traces of heavy metals. Studies also show that the vapour can contain carcinogenic chemicals similar to those found in tobacco smoke. While data on long term health effects isn’t available, e-cigarettes likely pose health risks and should not be seen as completely safe. Vaping in public also risks renormalizing smoking in public places; it may undermine quit attempts by smokers, and could provide young people a gateway to smoking tobacco.
As Medical Health Officer for Whistler, I applaud the action by Whistler Blackcomb to ban smoking from its resort - it shows leadership and a concern for everyone’s health.
Paul Martiquet, M.D.,C.M.,CCFP.,M.H.Sc.,FRCP(C)
Medical Health Officer