N° 173
1 February 2007 


Background: tobacco smoke associated with cancer risk
In 2004, an IARC Monograph Working Group concluded a thorough review of published literature on Tobacco smoke and involuntary smoking, with a Group 1 carcinogen classification for both active and involuntary exposure. Direct smoking and exposure to the tobacco smoke of others are clearly established causes of cancer in men and women: this IARC Monograph put a final stop to all controversies fueled at various degrees by the tobacco industry. Even the typical levels of involuntary exposure have been shown to cause lung cancer among never smokers.

Workplace exposure to coworkers' tobacco smoke
By adding several new studies, not included in previous meta-analyses, to those being reviewed, this new research strengthens the evidence for an association between workplace exposure to other people's tobacco smoke and lung cancer. For the first time, a clear dose-response between exposure to coworkers' smoke and lung cancer risk was demonstrated, which greatly strengthens the causal interpretation of the increased lung cancer findings. It is noteworthy that the dose-response analysis showed a two-fold increased risk of lung cancer among highly exposed workers.

Public Health concern
The publication of new research associating workplace exposure to involuntary tobacco smoke with lung cancer risk is a timely reminder of the necessity for introducing tougher regulations and laws as regards smoking in public places.1

"For many years authorities have been following a policy of identifying occupational exposures which increase the risk of human cancer and taking legislative action to eliminate or reduce such exposures to a minimum. Environmental tobacco smoke is an occupational hazard and exposure to workers can, and should, be eliminated" says Paolo Boffetta, a senior Epidemiologist at IARC.

Largest ever meta-analysis of occupational exposure to the smoke of others
The IARC "meta-analysis" (or review of 22 studies, totaling 4305 lung cancer cases) of various work settings where workers were exposed to the tobacco smoke from fellow workers is being published on-line on Jan 31, 2007 by the American Journal of Public Health and in print in the March issue.

France about to introduce stricter smoking ban
The Lyon, France-based International Agency for Research on Cancer strongly supports the decision of introducing a strict workplace smoking ban in France. Says IARC Director Peter Boyle: "France's move follows a more general tightening of smoking regulations within Europe, that may be a very strong incentive for those countries which are still leaving their non-smoking workforce unprotected to follow suit."

EU urges Member States to turn Europe into a smoke-free zone
"The green paper proposed by EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou on January 30, 2007, urging the EU Member States to do more to turn Europe into a smoke-free zone, outlines a strategy which will make a valuable contribution to the health of the European population. In the interests of Public Health, IARC strongly supports actions which will reduce exposure to established causes of cancer," said Dr Boyle.


1Following initial bans in Australia, North America and other European countries, a decree comes into force in France on February 1, 2007 that will ban smoking in public places, including workplaces, unless very cumbersome measures, including specific smoking rooms are in place for smoking coworkers. Restaurants, bars, tobacconists, casinos and discos however, benefit from a moratorium until January 1, 2008.

Fore more information, please contact

Nicolas Gaudin, IARC Communications Group, +33 472 738 567 or or

Olivia Chang, Public Affairs Coordinator of the American Public Health Association +1 (202) 777-2511 or .

World Health Organization
International Agency for Research on Cancer

Organisation mondiale de la Santé
Centre international de Recherche sur le Cancer

150, cours Albert-Thomas 69372 Lyon Cedex 08 (France)
Telephone: 33 472 738 485     Facsimile: 33 472 738 311