Tobacco Smoke

Adopted by MIAQC Board of Directors on March 15, 1999

Revisions Adopted on May 8, 2003

Environmental tobacco smoke causes cancer in humans[1] and is a recognized irritant and trigger for asthma. Exposure to such a hazard in enclosed spaces, where concentrations of contaminants are often 100 times higher than outdoor levels, constitutes a major public health problem. Further, there is currently no recognized safe level of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.

  • The Maine Indoor Air Quality Council endorses a “best practice” approach to solving indoor air quality problems (see MIAQC policy statement on IAQ in General)2.
  • Best Practice approaches that are successful, fast, permanent and if possible, cost-effective are preferred.
  • Source removal (prevention or elimination of the contaminant from the indoor environment) is currently the only effective strategy to eliminate the risk of adverse health effects from exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.
  • Ventilation, air cleaning and exposure control can reduce the exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, but cannot completely remove the risk of adverse health effects. Further, this approach may require significant cost in construction and maintenance of mechanical systems and increased energy expenditures for the life of the system.3

[1] Environmental tobacco smoke was classified in 1992 as a Class A carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In addition, the following cognizant authorities have determined that environmental tobacco smoke is harmful: World Health Organization, American Medical Association, American Lung Association, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, National Academy of Sciences, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Office of the U.S. Surgeon General

2Copies of the MIAQC Policy Statement on IAQ in General can be found on the MIAQC web site at, or obtained by contacting the MIAQC office at (207) 626-8115.

ASHRAE standard 62.1 (the ventilation standard) stipulates that the ventilation rate for smoking spaces only addresses odor, not health, stating, “specific ventilation rate requirements cannot be determined until cognizant authorities determine the concentration of smoke that achieves an acceptable level of risk.”