While there are many toxins in the air that are difficult to control, some, such as tobacco smoke, can be regulated. Many people use natural detox products to help their bodies fend off pollutants they encounter on a daily basis, but no one should have to be exposed to secondhand smoke, which may be harmful to human health. Recently, researchers in New Zealand found that smoking on city sidewalks increases the amount of fine particulates – a common form of pollution – in the air.
Scientists from the University of Otago used a sensitive air monitor to measure air quality over a five-week period in a local outdoor shopping center. They found that when there were smokers on the premises, there was an average of 70 percent more fine particulates in the air.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, fine particulate pollution poses a threat to human health because these molecules are so small that they are able to pass through the nose and enter the body.
Should there be a smoking ban?
One of the researchers, George Thomson, Ph.D., said that internationally, health officials and politicians have been addressing the problem of smoking on public streets by enacting cigarette bans in major areas.
"Much of the impetus for these policies is to denormalize smoking further, and to decrease the example of smoking to children," said Thomson. "Reducing visible smoking also makes it easier for smokers to quit and to stay quit."
Study co-author Nick Wilson recommended that city councils should do more to protect the health of tourists and pedestrians. Furthermore, he added that waiters and waitresses who work at outdoor cafes may be exposed to cigarettes smoke too often while simply trying to do their job.
Cleaner air, cleaner streets
It's not just about protecting the health of individuals, either. The researchers pointed out that a smoking ban would also cut city cleaning costs. If there are no cigarette butts on the sidewalks, the city won't have to pay people to come and sweep them up.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 45 million Americans smoke. Cigarette use and secondhand smoke have been associated with an increased risk of breathing problems. This is why more towns should consider implementing smoking bans.