There are similarities between the issues surrounding secondhand cigarette smoke and those to do with wood smoke, “the other secondhand smoke.” Some of these connections are explored in this section.
At one time, cigarette smoke was everywhere, from airplane cabins, theaters, teachers’ lounges, offices, restaurants, doctors’ waiting rooms, hospitals, and more, even as the evidence of harm grew.
Nonsmokers were ridiculed
A nurse, Ersilia Pompilio, wrote about attitudes then:
Today, smokers often complain about being stigmatized, but back then, it was nonsmokers who were chastised as troublemakers. Nurses who smoked made fun of patients who asked for a nonsmoking room, viewing them as finicky and ‘difficult.’
Today, we know better about secondhand cigarette smoke. But we still face a lack of awareness and concern about wood smoke, despite substantial and ever-growing evidence of harm.
Wood smoke pollution is still treated as a nuisance issue by many, including regulators. But it is, in reality, a serious public health concern that infringes on the rights of those who suffer from it.
The tobacco industry worked hard to delay much-needed health-protective changes in public attitudes and regulations against secondhand cigarette smoke. The wood burning industry uses similar tactics.
Smoke is smoke. We understand now that people should not be involuntarily exposed to secondhand cigarette smoke. For all the same reasons, nobody should be involuntarily exposed to others’ wood smoke.