By Julian Traas – Collegian Staff
As reported by the Scientific American on January 6, 2009, “Third-hand smoke is tobacco smoke contamination that remains after the cigarette has been extinguished,” says Jonathan Winickoff, a pediatrician at the Dana–Farber/Harvard Cancer Center in Boston.
The term “third-hand smoke” was coined by Winickoff and his research team. “The third-hand smoke idea—concern over that has been around for a long time. It’s only recently been given a name and studied,” says Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco (Scientific American).
The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science put forth its own findings last year. “We know that these residual levels of nicotine may build up over time after several smoking cycles, and we know that, through the process of aging, third-hand smoke can become more toxic over time,” says Hugo Destaillats, a chemist with the Indoor Environment Department of Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division.
Because third-hand smoke (at least, as it is understood today) is a new phenomenon, not many students know about it. “It’s plausible. I wouldn’t completely subtract it from my viewpoint. It sounds logical,” says Aaron Tewksbury. He stands with his friends, relaxing in the smokers’ area by the side-entrance of Building A.
“If this information comes out and [smokers] know about it, it’s selfish of them to smoke anywhere in public—infect people they don’t even know—and give them cancer,” says Ruthanne Dyson, fresh out of her Psychology class.