Workplace secondhand smoke exposure doubles cancer risk

In collaboration with the Press Association

High levels of exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace can double the risk of lung cancer, a review of previous research has found.

The University of Illinois research reviewed 22 previous studies on employees' level and duration of smoke exposure and their risk of lung cancer.

The researchers found a 24 per cent increase in lung cancer risk among people exposed to passive smoke in the workplace.

Workers who were highly exposed had double the risk of lung cancer, and workers with a long history, or duration, of exposure to secondhand smoke had a 50 per cent increased risk.

"We believe this provides the strongest evidence to date of the relationship between workplace tobacco smoke and lung cancer," said researcher Professor Leslie Stayner.

The study has important implications for legislators considering smoke-free workplace legislation.

Scotland and Ireland have already launched successful smokefree laws making it illegal to smoke in enclosed public place.

Wales and Northern Ireland will go smokefree on April 2nd and 30th respectively, followed by England on July 1st.

Secondhand smoke causes more than 600 deaths in the UK every year.

The study is published in the American Journal of Public Health.