Lebanese Pulmonary Society Emphasizes Harm of First and Second-Hand Smoking on World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Day

Beirut, 10 November 2014: Within a local context of lax anti smoking laws implementation and massive prevalence of smoking among the general population, the Lebanese Pulmonary Society (LPS) is emphasizing the harm of first and second-hand smoking on World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Day, which this year falls on 19 November.

Announcing data from four linked Scottish studies* showing that air particulate pollution in homes where smoking is permitted is approximately 10 times higher than in non-smoking homes, Dr. Mirna Waked, LPS President, said “these are particularly significant findings for us in Lebanon where nearly 60% of the population smokes according to health authority estimates, especially considering local studies** found prevalence of COPD to be 9.7% among the general population of those over 40 years old, and 14% specifically among those who either currently or used to smoke.”

COPD “is almost entirely smoking related and literally gradually blocks airways to the point of suffocation in advanced stages, which is fatal and especially sad since this is the most preventable of all diseases,” she added. “It’s vital the issue of smoking in general, and particularly that of exposure to second hand smoke, be taken more seriously by authorities and the public in Lebanon.”

Tobacco kills an estimated six million people each year, five million of active smoking and more than 600,000 non-smokers from exposure to passive smoke.

The latest results on passive smoking, published in October, found that particulate matter – also known as particle pollution or PM, which is a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets including acids, organic chemicals, metals, and soil or dust particles – afflicts non-smokers living with a smoker at the same rates it does a non-smoker living in a heavily polluted city such as Beijing. That’s about three times higher than rates advised as safe by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The LPS is also stressing the dangers of Water-pipe, or Narguile, smoking, which exposes people to the same noxious substances found in cigarettes though popular belief considers it harmless. Local studies have found Water-pipe smoking and dependence increase the risk of COPD, especially among dependent persons who smoke it for more than 20 years.