Health scare of the week
The toll of secondhand smoke
It takes only 52 smokers to kill a person via secondhand tobacco smoke, according to a new global analysis. While the harmful effects of secondhand smoke have long been known—it’s thought that nearly 1 million people around the world die each year from inhaling the smoke floating around them—this is the first research to determine “how many smokers are needed to kill one innocent nonsmoker,” says study co-author Jagat Narula, from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Narula and his team looked at the number of active smokers and secondhand-smoke victims around the world from 1990 to 2016. They found that in 1990, it took 31 lifetime smokers to produce enough secondhand smoke to kill one nonsmoker. By 2016, that number had increased to 52, thanks to the spread of smoking bans in restaurants, bars, and offices. “There’s a sense of secondhand smoke being benign, or not as damaging as the actual smoking is,” Narula tells CNN.com. “But it’s truly deadly.”
Correction: In our March 20 issue, we erroneously wrote that the Ophiuchus galaxy cluster is 390 light-years from Earth. It is in fact 390 million light-years from Earth. We regret the error.