How passive smoking contributed to my long-term disability

Friends of mine who smoke/smoked were always careful in my company and for that I (as a non-smoker) am/was very always grateful. They care and they are friends of mine.

In the workplace it was a different story, many who were smokers refused to refrain from smoking, especially in closed areas such as studios and technical areas where even the air-conditioning could not cope with the toxic smoke. Several times I would politely ask smokers in the areas to refrain because I knew how it affected my health and damage expensive equipment.

In 2000 I suffered two permanently semi-paralysing strokes (body right side). Medical consultants (after conducting various tests) asked me about my smoking habits. I told them, as a rule, I am a non-smoker. They informed me that they could not rule out the contributing factor to my strokes was indeed cigarette smoke. One Consultant even insisted I must be a heavy smoker.

In the years before my strokes I approached the subject of passive smoking with my smoking work colleagues – all of whom refused to accept that passive smoking is as dangerous as smoking itself. The very real arrogance of some actually caused a work atmosphere and certain infighting because the subject was even approached. Discussing smoking in enclosed areas was akin to walking on eggshells. When myself and few other non-smoking work colleagues put the case to shareholders and executive directors that smoking in studios and technical areas was not only degrading expensive equipment AND injuring employees – they refused to accept the facts. They also said that they did not want to upset smoking freelancers and employees by putting in place a no smoking rule in studios and technical areas.

Today, years after my strokes and 13 years of partial body paralysis (which cost me so very much) The National Health Service now recognise that passive smoking can seriously endanger non-smokers:

“Risks of passive smoking

Passive smoking can damage your body because secondhand smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, many of which are irritants and toxins, and some of which are known to cause cancer. Passive smoking from all forms of tobacco is harmful, including:

pipe tobacco
hand-rolling tobacco

Frequent exposure to other people’s smoke can increase your risk of lung cancer, even if you’re a non-smoker. Passive smoking also increases your risk of coronary heart disease. Coronary heart disease can cause a heart attack, angina (chest pain) and heart failure. It also increases your risk of stroke”.

Ian Waugh