Smoke and mirrors

The USA Today newspaper (December 9th, 2010) proclaimed on it’s front page that the US Surgeon General had determined that even exposure to the smoke of one cigarette causes immediate harm to the body.

But what of the smoke from other substances? We know that smoke from cannabis, opium and cane toad skins has hallucinogenic effects on the human body but what of the smoke generated by the burning of candles, kerosene, oil lamps, tallow, incense sticks, paper, animal dung and peat?

And then there’s the smoke generated by wood, be it be burnt in a forest/bush fire, camp-fire or the cozy confines of a fireplace. What are the health concerns associated with the inhalation of smoke from burning acacia, alder, ash, beech, cedar, Cyprus pine, elm, eucalypt, fir, juniper, oak, poplar, sandalwood, sequoia, tamarisk, etc., etc., etc.? And what of the smoke from the burning of shrubs and grasslands, or the smoke of charred meat in barbeques?

Have these issues been addressed in the same fervor and exhaustive detail as that accorded cigarette smoke? This seems highly unlikely.

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