California deems secondhand smoke a toxic air pollutant

Californians may soon breathe a little easier than the rest of us, now that the state has become the first in the nation to classify secondhand tobacco smoke as a toxic air pollutant. In a 6-0 vote on Thursday, the state Air Resources Board put secondhand smoke in the same category as diesel exhaust and arsenic, citing a report published last September that found a sharply higher risk of breast cancer in young women passively exposed to the fumes, as well as linking it to other cancers, asthma, heart disease, and health problems in children. Oh, the humanity. The immediate effect of the board’s vote will be an investigation into the places where Californians most often encounter secondhand haze, and how to reduce them. Highly contentious public hearings on new rules and legislation are likely to follow.