We last did third-hand smoking back in 2011. Even then I didn’t think the concept would far. How silly can you get?
Thanks to Dan Hughes we have the peer-reviewed Science Advances paper “Human transport of thirdhand tobacco smoke: A prominent source of hazardous air pollutants into indoor nonsmoking environments“.
First-hand smoking is a sin only slightly less damning than climate change. It might even cause climate change. Smokers suffer, though. But they benefit, too. (Looks cool, does wonders for your voice.) For many, and maybe because of the tobacco they choose, the suffering outweighs the benefits.
Second-hand smoke arises from smooching smokers, or from breathing the same air they exhale. Maybe even when they aren’t smoking. This, science assures us, is just as evil as smoking, and maybe eviler, because smokers are inflicting their nasty habit on others!
Third-hand smoke is from being in the ex-presence of smokers. Not in the presence; the ex-presence. Seems smokers leave a trail in smoke like snails do in slime. If you touch this trail, or breath the air that touches the trail, why, it’s just as if you were smoking yourself!
Fourth-hand smoke would presumably be touching or smooching a third-hand smoker. There has to be an n such that by the time we have reached n-hand smokers we have included every person on the planet. Once the research comes to this level, it will have nothing left to condemn about smoking. They’ll have to move on to coffee.
On to the paper!
From the Abstract:
The contamination of indoor nonsmoking environments with thirdhand smoke (THS) is an important, poorly understood public health concern. Real-time THS off-gassing from smokers into a nonsmoking movie theater was observed with online and offline high-resolution mass spectrometry. Prominent emission events of THS tracers (e.g., 2,5-dimethylfuran, 2-methylfuran, and acetonitrile) and other tobacco-related volatile organic compounds (VOCs) coincided with the arrival of certain moviegoers and left residual contamination. These VOC emission events exposed occupants to the equivalent of 1 to 10 cigarettes of secondhand smoke, including multiple hazardous air pollutants (e.g., benzene and formaldehyde) at parts-per-billion concentrations.
Fancy chemical names. I can’t pronounce acetonitrile, but it looks bad.
Anyway, sitting and watching a movie is equivalent to smoking from 1 to 10 cigarettes.
That’s 1 to 10 full cigarettes. From third-hand smoke.
A chain smoker could do it! I’ve seen various estimates, but a popular one is 6 minutes to suck through a fag, as the Brits say. I’m not sure about suck, but fag is right.
A 90-minute movie would see a chain smoker burn through 15 cigarettes. So he’d still get more than the guy three rows back at the next showing. But not much more. An ordinary smoker might do three to six cigarettes in a movie. Which is the same as the guy who didn’t flic his Bic.
Hey, it’s science.
It’s more sophisticated than I’m making it sound, of course. I do like to tease stuffy cocksure researchers. It’s not like going to any movie makes you the equivalent of a true smoker. No. It takes special kinds of movies.
According to one report, “The effects were particularly pronounced during R-rated films, like ‘Resident Evil,’ which the authors suggested was because such movies attract older audiences more likely to have been exposed to smoke.”
IMDB summarizes this movie: “A special military unit fights a powerful, out-of-control supercomputer and hundreds of scientists who have mutated into flesh-eating creatures after a laboratory accident.”
Mutant flesh-eating creatures could drive one to smoking, it must be admitted.
Wait, we’re not done. There was something about “tracer chemicals” supposedly emitted by the movie fans. Which is why they discovered, via wee p-values, the signifier of all their significances, that G-rated movie patrons emitted less stink (tracer chemicals) than R-rated patrons.
The increase in THS tracer concentrations was a function of audience demographics for both movie type and movie showtime. While movie rating (G-rated versus R-rated) may not explicitly represent the audience demographic, it was a proxy for both audience age and the likelihood that individuals in the audience were exposed to smoke at some point before entry. A much more pronounced enhancement was observed for the showings of R-rated action movies (e.g., Resident Evil and Irre Helden), while similar abrupt increases were minor and only occasionally present in the family movie screenings, even with large audiences of 70 to 220 people (e.g., Wendy). Concentration spikes due to THS emissions are largest for later showtimes.
If you value your lungs, stay away from R-rated movie fans.
Oh, one last thing, Only a minor point. The smoking-equivalent estimates were calculated from measurements taken in a theater that implemented a smoking ban fifteen years previously.
Smoke is just as unstoppable as zombies, apparently.
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