It has long been clear that bans on tobacco smoking in public places would lead those so inclined to look at the potential perils of other sources of smoke.
Indeed, stories of the possible dangers caused by cooking inside over open fires and outside over barbecues preceded public-places tobacco-smoking bans.
Earlier this year, a Euro Weekly News story quoting Spain’s Consumer and User Organization (OCU) said some household air-fresheners were more toxic than tobacco smoke was.
The OCU said some household air-fresheners that were heated, including oils, incense and perfumed candles, worsened the quality of the air because they had “excessive levels of toxic, allergenic and contaminating substances.”
Now it is the turn of wood smoke, according to a story in the Bangor Daily News, Maine, USA.
The story quotes Ed Miller, senior vice president for policy at the American Lung Association of the Northeast, as saying that wood smoke is more dangerous on a dose-by-dose basis than is cigarette smoke.
And Miller said that the problem was compounded because of the mystique surrounding wood smoke. People would walk into a room where wood smoke was in the air and say, “Oh, smells like fall,” whereas they wouldn’t walk into a room and say, “Oh, it smells like cigarette smoke, it’s so nice in here.”
But not everybody is enamored of wood smoke. Ernest Grolimund began a one-man crusade to get Maine to take the issue seriously when his neighbor began burning with both an indoor wood boiler and a wood stove in 2007.
“Immediately, my eyes were stinging and I was having allergy reactions,” said Grolimund, of Waterville. “I knew as an engineer, right away, this was bad.”
His daughter had an asthma attack. His neighbor had a heart attack. He attributes both to wood smoke.
Quite how seriously such warnings will be taken is difficult to say. Miller likened the uphill battle for raising awareness around wood smoke to that of raising awareness about secondhand tobacco smoke. But, he said, the twist was that wood, unlike cigarettes, had upsides.