Some of the more than 4,000 chemical compounds found in tobacco and its smoke are the same as those used in de-icer, paint primer, cool tar, disinfectant, nail polish remover, household cleaners and gasoline.
They're not good for smokers or those who breathe smoke second-hand, according to the state Department of Health's new ad campaign, "Second Hand Smoke Revealed." The campaign, launched Tuesday, pays particular attention to bars and clubs, homes and cars, where people who smoke put others at risk, according to the ads.
Tuesday morning, health officials, students opposed to smoking, fire officials and others held a "science fair" at the Rocky Mountain Raceway to demonstrate the ill effects of smoking.
It's a subject very familiar to Steve Foote, fire chief in South Salt Lake. Smoking killed his mother, he said. With help from his crew and the West Valley City Fire Department, he used a volatile organic compound detector to show that dangerous chemicals in car exhaust and those in second-hand smoke both quickly exceed 500 parts per million, a dangerous level.
In fact, Foote said, if his crews were going into an environment with that level of carbon monoxide they'd be wearing breathing apparatus.
Tobacco smoke is dangerous, hazardous and lethal, he said.
Others noted that exposure to carbon monoxide at levels inhaled by both active smokers and those who get it second-hand can impair alertness and have serious adverse health effects.
Air-quality samples taken recently from six area bars and private clubs that allow smoking show even worse results, said Rod R. Larson, an industrial hygiene assistant professor at the University of Utah's Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. The samples were analyzed for benzene levels compared to a public restaurant that doesn't allow smoking, using air collected in special canisters over a period of five or six hours. They were then taken to a certified lab for analysis.
Benzene, he said, is toxic and can kill those who have repeated exposure to it. It is the "initiator" in a process that can lead to cancers.
Benzene is a hydrocarbon produced by burning of natural products. It's a carcinogen that increases the risk of developing leukemia over the long term, while short-term exposure to high levels can cause drowsiness, dizziness, unconsciousness and death.
The samples showed benzene levels in the bars three to nine times higher than in the restaurant. The samples averaged 4.0 parts per billion of benzene, which was slightly lower than the OSHA action level but above the EPA's ambient-air-quality limit. And one of the bars exceeded the OSHA limit as well.
Students who belong to the Phoenix Alliance staffed a table showing some of the ingredients in cigarettes and their smoke. Chelsy Bloomfield, Layton High School, and Steve Mealy, Clearfield High, pointed out jars of formaldehyde, butane, cyanide, methanol, ammonia and other chemicals. The biggest jar, filled with a black, tarry substance, contained what can be found in the lungs of someone who smokes a pack a day, Mealy said.The campaign itself focuses on a few key facts: Utah is not one of seven states that have smoke-free bars and clubs. Smokers see their chances of developing heart disease increase by 60 percent. It can be the same for people regularly exposed to second-hand smoke. And "environmental smoke" in a car subjects passengers to more than 50 chemicals known to cause cancer.