back to article New cig peril: Third-hand smoke coats puffers in poison

US federal boffins in Berkeley, California say they have discovered yet another deadly hazard associated with smoking. They also raise warnings regarding the perils associated with electronic cigarettes. The dangers of actually smoking a cigarette, and those from breathing a smoker's "second hand" smoke were well-known: but …


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  1. Eddie Edwards

    What about 4th-hand smoke?

    Don't forget 4th-hand smoke! That's when a disgruntled smoker rams his 3rd-hand-smoke-covered hand into your face for stopping him smoking outside.

  2. Paul_Murphy

    As all non or ex-smokers will know.

    Smokers smell (of cigarette smoke at least) even if they have smoked outside.

    That cigarette smoke smells bad.

    Now I'm all in favour of the smokers killing themselves off as quickly as they are able, but I am not in favour of their efforts to do so affecting me and other non-smokers.

    This is just another part of the picture that tells me that smoking should be banned - is there any 'good solution' when the whole activity is danegerous to everyone.

    The ONLY people that benefit are the cigarette manufacturers and the treasury.


    The above is my opinion - you can hold whatever opinion you like.

    1. Lionel Baden

      not true

      most people are suprised when they find out im a smoker !!

      so stick that in your pipe and smoke it ...

      oh right you dont smoke ......

      if it makes any difference im not a particlary heavy smoker and i smoke rolled

      1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: not true

        I hope you smoke outside at home, Lionel.

        1. Lionel Baden


          occasionally :)

          1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

            Re: outside

            Oh, I thought you had kids.

            1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

              Re: outside

              Oh, I thought you had kids. Carry on. :)

            2. Lionel Baden


              i dont smoke in same room as them

  3. ShaggyDoggy


    Surely the output of the unvented diesel engine I have in my living room will kill me long before I accidentally touch a nicotine-impregnated surface

  4. Dangermouse

    Why not ban it outright?

    If smoking if sooooo dangerous to the chiiiiiilreeeen and costs so much the NHS , then why not ban it outright?


    Crap science?

    A bit like wobal glarming then.

  5. Chris Miller

    I've never smoked

    But I once shook hands with someone married to a smoker. Am I going to die? Please advise.

    1. lasersage


      I'm afraid so, we all will. Though most likely not from a smoke sludging snail, more likely something mundane like flattened by a car or heart attack.

      Best bet is cut off your hands before it spreads up your arms!

      1. ravenviz Silver badge

        Re: yep

        Going on personal experience I am going to live forever.

  6. The Original Ash


    Just ban tobacco and alcohol. Legalise less (none?) harmful substances.

    David Nutt knew what he was talking about.

  7. Bill Fresher


    "As they do so, their clothes and skin will become coated with deadly nicotine, which will then react with nitrous acid floating inside a building - usually generated by "unvented gas appliances" or diesel engines"

    I say get rid of the diesel engines and let the smokers back inside.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    It's a vile, smelly, toxic and deadly poison

    "nicotine residues will stick to a smoker's skin and clothing" - no fucking shit, Sherlock.

    As for "burning sooty treats" - to characterize it as some innocent pastime is disingenuous.

    If tobacco were introduced to the market today, it would, quite rightly, be banned from sale.

    I see no reason to allow it, simply because it's been around for a while. It should be banned outright and, like it or not, we all know it.

    1. lasersage

      introduced today

      yeh just like alcohol and cars and motorbikes. All far too dangerous and much too much fun, it should never have been allowed :)

      in fact glass can go too, much too easy to cut yourself and there plastics instead, and pins, they're a bit risky aren't they, lets have blue tack instead.

    2. ravenviz Silver badge

      Re: It's a vile, smelly, toxic and deadly poison

      I think burning Sooty is going a bit far.

      Mine's the one with the magic wand and Preparation H in the pocket

  9. Anonymous Coward

    California BS

    I'm an ex smoker and this is bullshit, you're not going to develop cancer because someone previously smoked a cigarette in the general area that you're standing in.

    Anyone genuinely concerned about this should just give it up, go and live in a plastic bubble, drink distilled water and only breathe air that has gone through a series of military grade carbon filters, because you'll be exposed to far more toxins in your general environment everyday just by working in an office, walking by an inner city road or probably eating a kebab.

    This is just more things on the list of stuff for the mincing, anti-smoker, crybaby to complain about.

  10. Tom Melly

    Any made up statistics to go with this?

    I'm an ex-smoker (not normally the most tolerant of non-smokers), but, whilst I can accept that there is a risk from secondary smoke, this sounds like a load of tosh.

    Exactly what statistical evidence do they have to support this, or is it just supposition? Do they make any guesses as to how many people will die because of this, or what the increase in your chances of developing cancer are? I would humbly suggest that the answer for both is "not a lot".

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    To the pods everybody in order to live safe, long and, healthy lives we must stay in our self contained capsules with a drip feed of nutrient suppliments and a constant stream of Friends, the Simpsons and Desperate housewives!

    I'll take my chances with the third hand slime smoke of death.

  12. Lionel Baden

    ok ...

    This seems to make out this stuff is so deadly a single ciggarette could wipe out an entire continent

    Because they have overhyped something so much again i wont be listening again !!!

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Also in the news... 10th hand sex causes leprosy

    Is this what the world is coming to? Identifying every conceivable thing that could possibly harm you is ridiculous. Last I checked, having sex these days is like playing Russian roulette, and yet we still do it. The human race would have died out without it. It's called RISK vs. REWARD. Cigarettes fall under this rule too. They can be fun, but they can also kill you. We all know this.

    Do these researchers have nothing better to do than go after smokers? Crying babies piss me off and cause me stress... which raises my blood pressure... which can cause hyper-tension, cardiac arrest & stroke. So, by their logic, we should kill all babies because they cause me harm. COME ON!

    How about research into something useful? How about working on making better electric cars so that normal cars can be got rid of? I bet one car causes more harm to the air that several dosen smokers in the same period.

    Seriously, the world has more pressing problems that need dealing with.

    1. lIsRT

      veering off topic here

      @ Juliusz "Cigarettes fall under this rule too. They can be fun, but they can also kill you."

      Serious question - what do you (or smokers in general) get out of smoking (the "fun" part)? I, perhaps unwisely, tried it once and didn't detect any effect (good or bad) at all.

      Is it *really* only ever started through peer pressure, and only continued to avoid withdrawal symptoms?

      Difficult to believe if so.

      1. Rob


        Causes a mild euphoric feeling, in the victorian times the upper classes used to drink sweet tea and smoke and that was one of the most popular past times/vices, hence why "tea rooms" were so prevalent at the time.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Off topic: To each his own

        Perhaps 'fun' was not the word I should use. I my personal case, I find smoking pleasurable. It's not any rush I go after (never been aware of any narcotic rush), but rather the actual act. It's probably an oral fixation of some kind.

        I enjoy it, which is why I don't do it constantly. I don't smoke all day when I'm at work and I rarely smoke at home. If I smoked all the time, it would become too routine and thus boring and not enjoyable, and I would have to stop for a while to regain the pleasure aspect.

        I didn't start smoking through peer pressure. I was well out of school before I started smoking. And I continue now because, as I've mentioned, I enjoy it. It has happened before that I suddenly lost all interest in smoking and stopped for many months. It suddenly didn't feel pleasurable anymore. I don't know why it happens but I know that it does. That's not to say that other people do it for the nicotine or whatever other reason.

        I hope that answers your questions.

      3. Long John Brass

        Bet you didn't inhale ;)

        Smoking keeps me calm. You don't want to see me when I get angry.

        Stress also causes cancer, Reports of stuff that might give me cancer.

        Therefore we need to ban all reports of stuff that might give you cancer


        Off for a smoke

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Oh noes!

    Does this mean we'll all have to have a decontaminant shower when we come back from the smoking area?

    Or maybe it means that we'll have to smoke through a tube from inside sealed boxes?

    What's the bets the nanny state jumps on this with more ridiculous laws?

  15. Anonymous Coward

    This just in: 4th-hand smoke peril...

    ... which occurs when normal people slap the **** out of stinky nasty smokers.

    1. seanj


      "Anonymous Coward".

      Maybe it's because I only quit smoking a few months ago, but I haven't got to the point where I feel it my God-given right to look down on an entire group of people who are merely enjoying a legal pastime.

      Replace the word "smokers" in your sad little hatespeak with some other minority group, like "blacks" or "asians", and you'd, quite rightly, fall foul of discrimination laws in the UK, but you take a pop at smokers, and it's not only acceptable, but actively endorsed by our political "leaders", and wholeheartedly encouraged within the parameters of the politically correct social experiment we're currently undergoing - it's something that disgusts me about the state this country is in, and the mentality of the people who have brought us to this point.

      Not AC, because unlike some, I have the courage of my convictions to stand behind what I say.

      1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Discrimination.

        If you're going to suggest smokers are a minority in the same sense that black people are a minority, Sean, I am going to suggest that you check your head.

        I don't think any sort of hate directed at any group is especially big or clever or good for the world (and you'd better believe that as a journo I cop for enough abuse in that sense), but that is a ludicrous and offensive leap to make. So don't. Please. Ta. Find another way to argue your point. This kind of thread is wearisome enough as it is.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm not a smoker and never have been but it seems to me that there is a certain hysteria around the subject. If you believed what the government and media seem to give out you'd think one puff and you'll die.

    What I'd like to see is some clear indication of risk. So, for example, if you smoke twenty a day you have a 1 in X chance of dying from a disease you wouldn't otherwise have had. I'd like to know the same for second hand smoke where you work in the same room as a smoker and then for someone who goes to a pub once a week where people smoke. Then could we have similar figures for the risk of third hand smoke?

    All I've seen so far is talk about smoking "related" disease risk, which seems a bit of a get out or "fudge". I accept that smoking is not a good thing and I don't want to encourage it but I'd like to have a better handle on the facts.

  17. SirTainleyBarking
    Thumb Down


    Just because limits of detection are improving, doesn't mean that what we are discovering is strictly relevant.

    I'm an ex smoker, and even I find these sort of reports tiresome.

    “Nicotine, the addictive substance in tobacco smoke, has until now been considered to be non-toxic in the strictest sense of the term,” says Kamlesh Asotra of the University of California’s Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program, which funded this study"

    sorry Kamlesh, you are wrong. Its extremely toxic, in the strictest sense of the word.

    From Wikipedia: The LD50 of nicotine is 50 mg/kg for rats and 3 mg/kg for mice. 40–60 mg (0.5-1.0 mg/kg) can be a lethal dosage for adult humans. Why do you think its used as an insecticide.

    Interesting analytical chemistry with a cheeky hint of sanctimonious zeal

  18. Anonymous Coward

    And the relative risk ratio is...?

    Well, there's a surprise. They don't say. They didn't even attempt to discover it.

    This is exactly what you get when scientists follow the state's agenda. Time to scrap Government-sponsored "research".

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    “I have something to tell you non-smokers that I know for a fact that you don't know, and I feel it's my duty to pass on information at all times. Ready?. . . . Non-smokers die every day . . . Enjoy your evening. See, I know that you entertain this eternal life fantasy because you've chosen not to smoke, but let me be the 1st to POP that bubble and bring you hurling back to reality . . . You're dead too.”

    1. weasel

      @AC *Sigh.* 10:36

      If you are going to quote Bill Hicks at least give him the credit.

    2. Lionel Baden


      many a happy time laughing my head on the train to berlin

      thx for the memories

  20. lIsRT


    ...they could just make cigarette manufacturers put the filter on the correct end. I admit it would require smokers to make some fairly tricky lingual contortions to avoid the ash falling on their tongues, but a suitable instructional leaflet could surely be included in every packet.

    More seriously, wouldn't it make much more sense to treat tobacco smoke as any other pollutant and regulate it accordingly? - would an industrial process be allowed to release similar amounts of tar/nicotine/whatever in a public place?

    1. Steve X

      regulated smoke

      What, you mean make smokers buy CO2 trading licenses, and purchase each drag on a commodities exchange? That sounds so unworkable that I have a really nasty feeling I shouldn't have suggested it. Potential Tory manifesto item?

  21. The Jase

    @California BS

    "I'm an ex smoker and this is bullshit, you're not going to develop cancer because someone previously smoked a cigarette in the general area that you're standing in."

    Put your money where your mouth is. Personally risk your home and money by offering it to the next person who on balance of probability got cancer through second hand smoke. If its bullshit there is no risk to you.

    1. Daren Nestor


      way to completely miss what he just said....

    2. Anonymous Coward

      re:@California BS

      OK, I'll take you up on that...

      Oh, wait a minute...

      The article is about "3rd hand smoke" not people who end up being forced to passive smoke (2nd hand) for long periods of time (think bar staff).

      Oh, wait another minute.....

      Pubs, clubs and bars are now smoke free too.

      Oh, hang on...

      All enclosed public areas and buildings are and have been for ages, smoke free.

      So who exactly is at risk of developing cancer from even "2nd hand smoke" never mind "3rd hand smoke"?

      Go on, who?

  22. Steve X
    Thumb Down

    Sign of the times?

    Is there anything we can do these days which /doesn't/ get labelled as child abuse?

  23. Drunken


    According to the study, "our results indicate that several hundred nanograms per square meter of nitrosamines may be formed on indoor surfaces in the presence of nitrous acid". This is a shocking result as it shows that 1 square meter of wall in a smoky room in a badly polluted environment may contain as much nitrosamines as a smoked sausage or crispy bacon sandwich!

    We are all doomed.

    1. Slappy

      You git...

      I was really enjoying this bacon sahnie :(

  24. Owen Carter

    Oh Dear

    So.. the anti-smoking brigade(*), unable to cope with the fact that a dwindling number of rational, intellegent people still smoke privately while fully aware of the risks, need a hook to get it banned altogether.


    (*) Were saving lives! how dare you criticize us! we can do no wrong and you are a child murder, waaa! you MUST do what we say.

    - As I approach middle age I am really anxious I will end up like them; but hopefully the fags will kill me before I get that sad.

  25. Sebastian Brosig

    convince the inland revenue first

    smoking is not a good thing to do for anyone we know and love to do, or anyone (so we learn from TFA) to do in our vicinity.

    But everyone else: yeah, bring it on. The IRS is the real "grim reaper" with the 'baccy: they bring in £10 billion p.a, and the NHS pays out only £5 bn for smoke-related illnesses. So everyone's a winner other than those cigarette-suckers! That's the cynical reason why smoking isn't banned.

    OK, I'll get my coat, mine's the one with the pack of L&B, thanks.

    1. Gareth Gouldstone

      IRS ??

      Since when did we pay tax to the US?

      Inland Revenue or IR or HMRC, perhaps

      Next you'll be telling us the emergency number is 911 ...

  26. Dave Harris

    Replace the walls?

    "the Berkeley profs recommend that the carpets, walls, furniture and ceilings be replaced."

    Er doesn't that normally mean rebuilding the bloody thing? So we have to rebuild anywhere people have smoked? Is this 'research' to be used of the driver for some sort of Keynesian mass rebuilding programme?

    Where the fuck do we get to smoke in peace now? Or do we have to take our chances with the bears having a dump?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    "the Berkeley profs recommend that the carpets, walls, furniture and ceilings be replaced."

    And in entirely unrelated news, the Berkeley profs have just started an interior design and refurbishment company.

    Wouldn't surprise me anyway.

  28. T-Bizzle

    What next?

    Apparently graveyards are to be condemmed, it appears that dead smokers can omit high levels of dangerous nicotine 2-300 years after their death.....

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Do I hear?

    The sound of yet more jackbooted feet crunching in unison on the gravel? A few months for the Macbethian witches in the labour spin department to whip everyone into a suitable froth and it'll be perfectly legal to kill smokers on sight, provided you have been CRB approved and decriminalised, you do it with a non-locking blade of less than 3 inches bought using the appropriate ID, and you don't use a large, black camera to photograph any police who may attend the scene to arrest any innocent bystanders who look guilty, perverted or non-CRB exonerated.

    Nice touch that, getting the kids in there, cos we'd do absolutely anything for them, unless we have something to hide (like a morbid dislike of other people's spoiled, mannerless offspring, for example.)

    The Final Solution for smokers - coming soon to a Town hall near you!

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Dear world....

    It has taken some time, but on this, the eve of my 30th birthday, I have hereby lose faith in you. I now await the sweet cold embrace of cancer-induced death.

  31. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    OMG OMG!!!111!!!!1!1!!!!1

    Smoke kills you!

    Alcohol kills you!

    Salt kills you!

    Sugar kills you!

    Butter kills you!

    Bread kills you!

    Red meat kills you!

    White meat kills you!

    Knives kill you!

    Cars kill you!

    Planes kill you (and the Polar bears)!

    Peanuts kill you!

    Water kills you!

    Internets kill you (or at least make you pervert)!

    Now, quick, give all your money to the Government and die, before something else killed you!

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: OMG OMG!!!111!!!!1!1!!!!1

      New research suggests moderating comments (especially the kind you've moderated a gazillion times before) kills you. I think I've got about a week left before I... ack... gag... oh no... estimates... inaccurate... I regret... n-nothing... see you... in hell... mother...fu


      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        I am sorry

        I apologise for any anti-moderating offense I may have inadvertently committed but I still insist that my comment was not in any way less stupid or unoriginal or politically engaged than the phenomenal piece of research lying at the base of this discussion. In other words I maintain that it was totally in line with the level of scientific enquiry set by the honourable researchers at Berkeley.

        1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: I am sorry

          Oh yeah. It's just that I am somewhat jaded having read all these arguments expressed almost word-for-word in the same cod-satirical fashion several times before. It's not your fault. You're just doing what you do.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "You're just doing what you do"

            A put down of pure, understated class.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Down

          @I still insist that my comment was not in any way less stupid or unoriginal or politically engaged

          that's your opinion, bud, but you could be a bit harder on yourself

  32. Andy 17

    All I can say to that is..


  33. tiggertaebo

    Not convinced

    Sounds like a serious amount of scaremongering going on here. So essentially its fumes from things like diesel engines (already fairly toxic) interacting with smoke residue left behind on fabrics to produce other toxic fumes. They talk about how it can persist in fabrics for days etc etc.. given how (in the UK at least) people are having to smoke outside anyway the only fabrics affected will be clothes, which get washed alot. Somehow I think they are somewhat overstating the risk here.

    Do these experts wear tinfoil headgear? Can they occasionally be heard muttering about the sinister actions of "The Man"? Oh and I'm sure they all drive Priuses as well :D

    1. Steve X


      Oh, not Priuses, not anymore. They're deathtraps now, haven' you heard? (and because of a programming error, so there's even an IT angle here!)

  34. Wayland Sothcott 1

    Working with children

    I don't think we should stop people smoking, it's their right afterall.

    However they should be prevented from working with children. The system is already in place for this.

    Also they should not become parents. This is harder to enforce but perhaps when parents go for fertility treatment they should not be given it if they smoke.

    The HPV vaccine programme will have a benificial effect on future childrens wellbeing because the potential parents will need fertility treatment and can be screened for suitablility then.

    Eventually sexual equality can be achived by sterilising women after first storing their eggs. Babies can then be raised in safe secure national facilities without the neet for women to take time off work.

    Perhaps all that wasted energy of children running arround could be harnessed by keeping them in safe secure pods and hooking them up to the national grid thereby creating a completely green carbon neutral power source and reversing Global Warming.

    With children brought up by machines it would also have the added benefit of keeping them away from ciggarettes and paedophiles and ensure they are all treated equally.

  35. Dr. Mouse

    OK then...

    If it's so dangerous, ban smoking.

    In the same vane:

    * Ban alcohol because of the amount of trouble it causes

    * Ban cars because of the number of road deaths

    * Ban TV and computer games because it causes obesity in kids

    * Ban fatty foods because they cause all sorts of health problems

    * Ban knives because they can cut

    * Ban food which hasnt been reduced to a milkshake-like consistency because people could choke on it

    * Ban movement because people can hurt themselves (twist ankles / fall over etc.)

    I am a smoker. I don't like the ban on smoking in pubs, especially pubs like my local where the majority of people smoke, so the pub seems empty until you get to the smoking area at the back, but I live with it. I respect others right to choose, so I wouldn't even smoke in my own car with a non-smoker if they didn't want me to, or in my own house. Can other people PLEASE respect my right to choose and stop with this bullshit research which is never backed up by real evidence?!

  36. Sceptical Bastard


    Third-rate scientific minds peddling third-rate science. Still, they got themselves in the news (which, I suspect, was the aim).

    As to the slyly inserted "The biggest risk is to young children...", here we go again! It's the pernicious hand-wringing "Oh, won't anyone think of the children" mantra which the child protection industry exploit to impose their fanatic paranioa on virtually every area of life. Did anyone hear that nutter Jim Gamble on Radio 4 this morning? I rest my case.

    As to Paul Murphy (above): "The above is my opinion". Yes, and a particularly intolerant priggish self-righteous one so keep it to yourself.

  37. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Oh, I forgot... mention that terrorists kill you big time! Can you imagine what a smoking terrorist can do?!?11?!

  38. p1nk_k1tten

    Why worry?

    You could get run over by a bus tomorrow!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why worry?

      Don't you think buses get a bad press?

  39. JC 2
    IT Angle

    The Date

    ... is it April 1st?

    I can't even imagine someone dumb enough to suggest replacing walls. Ultimately I suspect that their research is so risky/deadly we ought to ban that research altogether and lock them up for even thinking about it.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Lets just go for it, cover everything in soft foam to protect us, including ourselves, just in case we make physical contact with another human being...

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Caffeine addicts at this point might want to stand up for the nicotine addicts, who knows what legally bought addictive substance they'll go for next...

  42. Just Thinking

    Biggest risk

    The biggest risk to children is that they will start smoking before they are mature enough to make an informed decision, then they get hooked and suffer ill health later in life. We should do something about that before we worry about 3rd hand smoke.

    Perhaps for the moment we have gone far enough with mitigating the effects of second hand smoking (I rarely encounter it now). We should be looking at the availability, the promotion and the media representation of smoking as if it were some normal human activity?

    ie don't allow so very many places to sell them, then it might be easier to police the age restrictions. Don't allow shops to put up huge, brightly lit banks of shiney cigarette boxes which are the first thing you see when you walk in. Don't show people smoking on early evening soaps (yes I know it is part of real life, but so what - wouldn't the real Phil Mitchell swear a bit more often than he does?)

    1. Disco-Legend-Zeke

      The convenience stores... the US used to have cardboard kiosks which displayed packs of ciggies out of sight of the clerks at convenient shoplifting elevation.

      The tobacco companies know they need to create addicts before they are old enough to understand the dangers. What's a couple hundred dollars compared to having a life long slave^H^H^H^Hloyal customer.

      New laws in most states now require that tobacco products be kept where only the clerk can reach them.

  43. Steen Hive

    Got a light?

    These little fascist pricks are as good a justification for suicide by cigarette as anything.

  44. Richard Grimwood
    Big Brother

    E-fags solution not the problem

    I never smoked a lot, thank god, and now I find that a puff on an e-cig satisfies the odd craving usually after ordering the 3rd pint. This new research will no doubt be trumpeted by those trying to ban the e-cig which would be a shame. A mass conversion of smokers to the e-cig would lead to cleaner streets, clothes, hair, smokers and their loved ones lungs. Tax the nicotine cartridges then the tax man doesn't lose out , the NHS will eventually have less big 'C' patients and the council can spend less cleaning streets and more recycling the lithium ion batteries.

    Mines the one that doesn't stink any more.

  45. Diogenes

    Denormalise Denormalise

    The concept of 3rd hand smoke did not exist until January last year. The whole concept was cooked up by the National Social Climate Survey of Tobacco Control, a special interest group working to legislate bans on tobacco (not surprisingly, heavily backed by the world’s largest pharmaceutical company of smoking cessation products) as part of its campaign to denormalise smoking.

    Denormalise. For those who don’t know what is meant by “denormalise,” it is exactly what fat people are experiencing in increasing intensity, as well as all those with physical characteristics, cultural differences or chronic diseases (actually primarily due to aging and genes) that can be condemned for not following some certain diet and lifestyle behavior. Denormalising is a process of “stigmatizing people in everyday discourse and media representations, in a variety of overwhelmingly negative ways” to make them outcasts and create cultural change as a means for a nation to control behavior.

    This technique of denormalising was described in detail by Simon Chapman, Ph.D., professor of public health at the University of Sydney, in the January 2008 issue of Tobacco Control, published by the British Medical Journal Publishing Group.

    And remember the dose makes the poison, ie drinking one glass water/hour good, drinking 12 litres of water per hour bad.

    Just because we can detect a few millipoofteenths of nicotine after a few years does not mean that those few millipoofteenths are dangerous

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Denormalise Denormalise

      Thanks for posting that. I hope lots of people read it.

      YES YOU!

      Read the above post, it's good.

  46. Anonymous Coward


    I'm worried this research might be used to justify further restrictions on my smoking, therefore it's incorrect.

  47. Diogenes

    Won't somebody think(?) of the children

    I am sure that a variant of Godwin's Law should be postulated for "think of the children"

    1. Anonymous Coward


      I hate being beaten to it. Maybe I should fire off a Hitler reference instead?

      - Bloody chain-smoking Nazi's!

      - Bloody scare-mongering Nazi's!

      - Bloody commentard Nazis will probably vote me down!

      There...I feel better now.

      Yes, yes, I'm going.

    2. Demosthenese


      You do know that Nazi Germany was the first government publicly to identify the link between cancer and smoking and the first to introduce smoking bans - for pregnant and young women.

      1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Nazis

        You win ten Godwins.

      2. some vaguely opinionated bloke

        James I

        (or James VI for those north of the border) got there first, but decided the duty raised was much better than the duty of care.

  48. Anonymous Coward

    Can anyone point me towards the safe environmental levels of the following please:

    * Carbon Monoxide

    * Nitrous Oxide

    * Nitrogen

    * Iron

    * Oxygen

    * Water

    * Chlorophyll

    * Tin

    * Copper

    * Mercury

    * Cosmic Radiation

    * Infrared Radiation

    * Ultraviolet Radiation

    * Electromagnetic Radiation

    * Gravity

    * Velocity

    * Altitude

    * Temperature

    * Pressure

    * Viscosity

    * Germans

    * World Of Warcraft

    * The Daily Mail

    All have been shown to kill in sufficiently high concentrations, I'd just like to know where I stand...

    1. some vaguely opinionated bloke

      Don't forget...

      Dihydrogen Monoxide...

    2. Allan George Dyer

      it's not velocity that kills...

      it's acceleration

  49. Alpha Tony


    I think we should form a lobby group.. NSWACA or something like that.. (Non Smokers Who Aren’t Complete Asshats).

    I'm glad to see that there are others on here (who like) me either do not smoke or have given it up and yet:

    • Are able to stand next to a smoking person without making coughing/grumbling noises.

    • Are able to avoid commenting when someone comes back from a break smelling smoky (ironically the people that do point it out frequently have BO and/or halitosis).

    • Are able to have a discussion about smoking without sanctimoniously going on about how the smoker will die sooner/less pleasantly etc etc.

    Sadly as with most subjects the lunatic fringe is much more vocal than the majority. Just as PETA end up making all vegetarians look like loonies, the ‘ban this sick filth/won’t somebody think of the children’ lot end up making all us non/ex-smokers look like whinging, sanctimonious tossers.

    I suspect that many feel like me that the law has already done enough to protect us and any further legislation or interference would be a greater defeat for civil liberties than victory for public health.

    Not in my name chumps.

  50. Anonymous Coward

    Ban potatoes, too

    Nicotine is also found in potatoes, tomatoes and green pepper - in higher doses than the residuals these Berkeley muppets examined.

    We obviously need to ban these too.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Figures and sources please!

      1. some vaguely opinionated bloke

        auf wikipedia...

        so your salt intake may vary, but:

        "Nicotine is an alkaloid found in the nightshade family of plants (Solanaceae)"

        Several species are cultivated, including three globally important food crops:

        * Tomato, S. lycopersicum

        * Potato, S. tuberosum

        * Eggplant, S. melongena

      2. slv138


        "The tobacco plant, Nicotiana tabacum, belongs to the nightshade family, which also includes potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and red peppers. All contain nicotine."

        The actual amounts are much less than in tobacco, but I'd be willing to bet they are fairly close to the amounts collecting on surfaces per the 'study'.

  51. Simon Neill

    I'll be sure to remember this ...

    ... next time I get the urge to lick a smoker. Or their walls.

    Oh wait, I don't do that anyway because they stink and because its a little bit weird.

    1. Lionel Baden

      new job please

      i just had to explain why i burst out laughing in the middle of a meeting !!!

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is something delicious

    About people criticizing the scientists for their loopy exclamations .... while bringing up racism and jackboots to support their paranoid fantasies.

    Am I alone in thinking arguments are weakened rather than strengthened by this sort of silliness ?

    Can we please have a "get a f'king grip" icon ?

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    fuck that

    I'm scared of 5th hand smoke.

    That's an object that's been near an object that's been near an object that's been near smoke that's been near a smoker.

    I can now conclude that I am 5th hand smoking 100% of the time which is an absolute bloody outrage and if I ever have kids I'm going to blame 5th hand smoking for every illness they ever get.

    And while I'm at it I don't ever want to see schools giving my kids that filthy disgusting dihydrogen monoxide at lunch time. All chemicals are bad. You don't need to be a scientologist to know that.

    1. Cameron Colley

      A much greater threat to the children is:

      Third-hand wanking! Seriously, in case anyone missed it a very scientific email stated that "In a year you will have shaken hands with 11 women who have masturbated and not washed their hands" -- I forget what the figure was for men but it can't be any better, surely?

      That means that, when touching your children, you are abusing them by third-hand masturbation!!!!!!!!!!! Stop this filth immediately!!!!!!!!

    2. ravenviz Silver badge

      Re: f*ck that

      5th hand smoke is only manifest at quantum distances

  54. Richard 39


    and I like it, I do it because it makes me happy and I don't care about so called 'health risks related to smoking', Yeah so, I might die of it but we're all going to die sometime and no-one can predict if Joe Healthy will die in any less pain than I, If anyone disagrees with me - do one! Yes I know this is an ignorant, self centered and narrow minded opinion but so are the findings in this piece of crap someone is trying to pass off as scientific study.

    I find Curries to be more dangerous than this mythical 'third hand smoke' crap.

    I defy anyone to go into the toilet after someone who has had a curry and not gag or run for fresh (second hand smoke filled) air, or for that matter I defy anyone to enjoy the ass burning sensation of a hot curry the next day.

    1. ravenviz Silver badge

      Re: I AM A SMOKER!!

      There must be something wrong with me then because whenever I smoke I feel terrible

      1. Lionel Baden


        i enjoy it

        maybe your doing it wrong :D

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ban stairs!

    Seriously, the number of people killed by stairs every day is far higher than those killed in any way that makes good press copy. Seriously, most weeks you get similar numbers to the entire swine flu pandemic.

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Ban stairs!

      Seriously? For serious? Serious!

  56. Colin 4
    Thumb Down

    what a load of crap

    that is all.

  57. Wish You Were Here
    Paris Hilton

    I would just like to say one thing here.

    As a smoker, I like to think I'm doing my bit to save the country from the financial hell hole it's put itself in. As a heavy smoker since age 14, I will most likely die fairly quickly before I'm 65 of some nasty smoking related disease. Nobody forces me to smoke. I do this out of choice. I will not be an interminable burden on the NHS and social services as I suffer Alzheimers or similar debilitating but long term illness. I will not expand the pension hole by drawing my hard earned pension for years and years ad nauseum. I will return my house, well maintained because I'm sane and wealthy enough to maintain it, to the housing stock pool so that someone else can live here. I don't ask you to praise me. Tolerate me. We are supposed to be a tolerant society. Do not berate me for making your non-smoking dotage just a little more affordable.

    Please won't someone think of the children and start promoting smoking?

    Paris, 'cos she's smoking.

    1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

      Hahaha... Nice one.

      On a more serious note... (Just in case there are some that are that obtuse)

      I would think if it were not for the stupidity of man as a whole and their related vices, the NHS would not be so strapped and under so much pressure. Or any health care system in the world for that matter.

      coronary artery disease is quite common, smoking makes it commoner.

      Strokes are quite common in later life, smoking makes it commoner.

      emhysema, lung cancer, while not uncommon is rare in non-smokers.

      Think you will still get a quick death?

      Think again.


      Don't believe me? Fine.

      Go ask your doctor. Na, you don't trust him. He's bollocks, innit? You know what is right for yourself. You know it all, it's the way trendy people think these days, innit?

      Cigarettes, alcohol, and illicit drugs, and probably most other hedonistic things.






  58. Eddy Ito
    Paris Hilton

    How familiar!

    "As they do so, their clothes and skin will become coated with... a slick of poisonous slime which they will drip everywhere in the style of giant, evil snails."

    Oddly that pretty much sums up how I felt the last time I was in Paris. The one in France, not the one in the picture.

  59. Ben Rosenthal

    been quit....

    ..since November.

    But the first sign of turning into a whiny, sanctimonious, rubbish spouting non smoker will see me take it up again......I'd rather get cancer than sound like them.

    Hopefully by then we'll also have sensible laws on assisted suicide.

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: been quit....

      I guess given the choice between being a whiny, sanctimonious, rubbish-spouting non-smoker, and a whiny, sanctimonious, rubbish-spouting smoker, I'd still choose the former if only for financial reasons. You only get the high-grade martyrdom and retro-rebellious edge with the latter, though. Hmm. Tricky.

      Really, though, do you listen to yourselves? This is another one of those occasions where no one comes out looking good. Besides, you all seem to agree with each other here so I don't know why you're all shouting. I think you should all relax. Have a cigarette, maybe.

  60. Anonymous Coward

    Concerned Parent

    I have just bought lead-lined anti-paedophile romper-suits for little Damien and Morticia. Does anyone know if these will also offer protection from Giant Evil Snails?

    I need a fag, just to calm my ragged nerves.

    Someone was asking for the actual risks from smoking / second hand smoke:

    1st hand smoke raises the lifetime risk of dying from lung cancer from about 1% to about 18% (according to wiki).

    2nd hand smoke poses no statistically significant additional risk of lung cancer (according to this WHO sponsored cohort study).

    3rd hand smoke is palpably nonsense.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    From the mouths....

    ...of morons! Ignore and carry on. Yes smoking might kill you. Life will definitely kill you. It's unlikely to be partiularly pleasant or agreeable whatever you do to `hedge your bets` ....

    The guy who spewed this latest piece of propogandist crap is clearly an idiot who will probably die of cancer or heart disease anyway. Or maybe a RTA. It's very unlikely he'll slip away in his sleep.

    Some consolation at least.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You can smoke it?

    here I was thinking, we were all using it is an organic pesticide, mixed with a little garlic for good measure.

    Hmm, some of the oldest people in the world were smokers; Jeanne Calment, Marie-Louise Meilleur amongst many others.

    Perhaps, anti smokers are mentally ill, they should get that checked out, they have drugs that will make them more accepting of others, anti-smoking is just a step beyond racism after all.

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: You can smoke it?

      Look, you are kidding about the anti-smoking-is-akin-to-racism thing, aren't you? I can't tell any more. My satire gasket has blown.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re; You can smoke it?

        Is is 'coz my lungs is black?

        1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: Re: Re; You can smoke it?

          Haha! Best comment for a month. For two months.

      2. Steen Hive

        Satire Gasket? I would like one!

        I lit up on a bus the other day just for the Rosa Parks vibe.

        1. John F***ing Stepp

          Hack. . .move to the back of the bus.

          Good one.

    2. Marvin the Martian

      Organic pesticide

      Yes, tobacco would be an organic pesticide, but that's backwards to use as an argument: the whole organic thing is fundamentally nonsense. It's some 19th century antroposophy blather, built on the same stable fundament as homeopathy. So even if well-intentioned, the protocol is unscientific (and proudly so).

      "If it's from nature, it's OK; if it contains chemicals, it's bad" (what chemicals? Which molecule is free of chemistry?!). Say that loud in the seconds after you've been bitten by a mamba or gaboon viper.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    cheer up Ms Bee, maybe go smoke a fag ( or throw things at the smokers if your not one)

  64. Stevie


    The Stevie denicotineizer is the answer!

    This simple device is fitted to the existing door frame of any building. By simply pressing a button the beleaguered smoker, vilified in press and media nationwide) can render him- or herself nicotine-free and politically poisonless (PP).

    What's the secret? Well, the actual technology is of course a trade secret, but simply put, the button activates a sophisticated computer controlling dozens of tiny jets arranged around the door jamb. The poor smoker - now classified as a superfund toxic cleanup site after nipping outside for a gasper - is bathed in a cleansing mixture of strong acids, live steam and flames, which causes the nicotine to fuse with the integument of the smoker and thereby render it unreactive to this "ambient nitric acid" so-called "scientists" worry about.

    Perhaps if the "scientists" were more goal-oriented than column-inches-in-Lancet-or-New-Scientist oriented they would come up with this sort of simple fix instead of panicking people with woolly pronouncements of hypothetical doom.

  65. IR

    Don't read them all

    I'll save everyone the time of reading all those comments:

    Rabid Smokers: We are being victimised again. I'll do what I want if it is legal, screw you.

    Rabid Non-smokers: Oh no, we are being killed by smokers in another way. And they smell bad too.

    Paranoid: This is an conspiracy by evil scientists working for the government.

    Extremists: Nazis!

    Reasonable: No specific risk-level has been stated but it seems low enough not to worry about.

  66. Anonymous Coward

    As a non smoker I sympathise

    For decades we've been told to lump it, get a life and go outside if we don't like it, eat in a different restaurant and go to a different cinema and now the boot is on the other foot.

    Yaaay - you don't like it, don't smoke, smoke at home, go to a country where you can smoke all you like, get lung disease, cancer, impotence and pay yourself for all the treatment not out of my taxes, don't occupy a hospital bed that I need, F-O-A-D suckers

    1. Rab Sssss

      and you can pay

      Full charges for any aliment or injury that can be traced back to you...put our back out lifting something or due to crapy posture? FOAD

      Triped over your own feet and hurt your self? FOAD

      Sports injury? FOAD

      Food posining? nobody forced you to eat the food that gave it to you so FOAD.

      you can guess where the rest of this post maybe going...sorry Miss Bee was going to be good but lost it <VBEG>

    2. Darryl

      "don't occupy a hospital bed that I need..."

      What will you need a hospital bed for? You're a non-smoker.

    3. asdf

      smokers in States fund the health care system

      Don't get wrong I can understand some of the vile towards smokers but technically smokers pay so much on cig tax and their ailments generally kill quite rapidily so they I believe they are actually a net gain on the health care system. Just like hunters who through licenses fund most of the conservation programs, the ones who actually fund many public programs are not who you would expect.

  67. adnim

    As a smoker

    I can turn any whiny sanctimonious non-smoker into a smoker.

    All it takes is a match a little bit of petrol and a gallon of piss.

    I used to scrape the nicotine of my leaded paint covered walls when I ran out of ciggies.

  68. Nebulo


    This is a SMOKING AREA.


    If you persist in not smoking when requested to do so, you may be required to leave.

  69. Trevor Pott o_O Gold badge

    You know you have been reading El Reg for too long when... read the words "Third-Hand smoke" in the title of an article and your very next thought is "poor Sarah." (A second indication would perhaps be placing bets on the number of comments the thread has before you open the article.)

    Beer: I hope Sarah gets a free pint after today’s work.

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: You know you have been reading El Reg for too long when...

      Heh. New best comment. If I had a free beer for every terrible thread I have to preside over, I'd be drunk all the livelong day.

  70. Ishy Fishy

    My favourite arguement!

    First off, yes I am a smoker!

    A choice made by me and me alone.

    Scenario #1 :

    I stand in on of the very few places where I can still enjoy my 'poison' of choice, and a non-smoker arrives nearby....

    They then have the option of moving out of the area, so as to avoid the smell,smoke,whatever....

    Easy enough to do?

    Scenario #2 :

    I am walking down the road, when someone comes along spewing gawd knows how many dangerous chemicals.....

    Yet in this situation, not only is the person (or as will be revealed shortly, a helluva lot of people {many of which are of the whingey non-smoker variety}) not seen as the social leper that I am, I have no way of removing myself far enough from the aforementioned chemical spew.

    There's a chance now, that your thinking "WTF is this tw@ going on about...?"

    Cars, Buses, Lorries..... etc etc.

    Any form of motorised transport!

    Yet when was the last time anyone called for any of them to be banned?

    Never met anyone able to provide a decent argument against that!

    You get the usual "But there needs to be deliveries/transport/etc", which yes I agree is fair game.

    But when car upon chemical spewing car is driving sown the road with only 1 passenger, where's the justification in that!

    In regard to the icon......

    I need a smoke and it's cold outside!

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: My favourite arguement!

      You're a berk, Ishy Fishy. You really are a ridiculous berk. Listen to yourself. That argument you so smugly rolled out in defence of your grotty habit is fallacious.

      Cars, which are irrefutably a nasty source of pollution and often directly kill people, have a real purpose which benefits the individual and society as a whole which offsets the damage done. Fags, whatever you want to trot out about eventual benefits to the health service or economy, are designed solely to please you and other selfish swine like you.

      I'm constantly amazed at how little you lot seem to care about how your silly indulgence (which you have a right to, yes, yes, I'd never suggest otherwise) affects others. You don't seem to even want to acknowledge that it's irritating, or if you do, you're proud of the fact that you make someone else's day a tiny bit more shit on a regular basis. Why? Don't you care about other people? Do you elbow people out of the way to get on the bus? Do you tell shop assistants to go and fuck themselves? You're worse than people who drop litter. (In fact, you do drop litter, don't you?)

      I think that's quite enough of that, anyway - after 4806 comments I don't think there's much more to say. You can all go and stand outside an actual pub, far away from me. I'm closing this thread now, because I can. So there. Bye!

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It's not proper science until there's a hockey-stick graph to prove it.

  72. Allan George Dyer

    Was this study...

    sponsored by the furniture and building industries?

    "the Berkeley profs recommend that the carpets, walls, furniture and ceilings"

    More seriously, I am surprised by the deniers saying 3rd hand smoke can't possibly be a problem, take a look at the comment thread on dirty PCs.

  73. Allan George Dyer
    Paris Hilton

    Simple solution...

    Smokers take their clothes off when they come back inside.

    Oh... maybe I should rethink that.

  74. Winkypop Silver badge

    Smokers stink and then they die

    Find yourselves another planet, OK.

  75. James H

    What is the real issue at hand?

    What I take away from most of the anti-smoking comments here is that people don't like smokers because of the smell of the cigarette. Cigar smokers are detested (except for Clinton?) because the smell is strong, but pipe smokers (hetero) are thought upon fondly. Same substance, different smells.

    I'd imagine the acuteness with which smoke assaults one's nose causes the person to think "oh my god, I'm breathing in the poison!", but what are the actual parts-per-million and exactly how bad for said person is it actually?

    Granted, some people have family that has died from smoking. My grandmother died at 70... from smoking? And that stings, but as others have stated, cars are probably far more dangerous, they just don't (most of the time) stink quite as much.

    Is smell the real issue here? If they legalized marijuana, would that be okay because it smells better?

    And what others have said about smokers funding a lot, don't belittle it. It is an expensive habit with about 70% of the price as tax. I think even tobacco companies are required to support anti-smoking campaigns.

    The clear solutions: Make a cigarette that doesn't stink!

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