Harvard Aids U.S. Report On `Passive' Smoking

A Kennedy School of Government research group recently completed a chapter for the forthcoming report by Surgeon General C. Everett Koop on the harmful effects of cigarette smoke on non-smokers.

Koop last spring asked the Institute for the Study of Smoking Behavior and Policy at the K-School to examine the impact of smoking regulations in public and in the workplace, said John M. Pinney, executive director of the institute.

The chapter, which was written primarily by Nancy Rigotti, the associate director of the institute, will serve as an extensive overview of current scientific knowledge on the effect of such regulations for the Surgeon General's report, which should be released within the next few weeks, Pinney said.

Rigotti was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Koop chose the institute to prepare thissection of the report because it is "one of thefew research groups in the country" dedicated tostudying the public policy implications of thehealth hazards posed by cigarette smoke, saidDonald R. Shopland, acting director of the Officeon Smoking and Health, a part of the U.S. PublicHealth Service.

The nation's highest health official isexpected to conclude in the report that "passive"exposure to cigarette smoke is clearly harmful toyoung children and causes health problems in manynon-smoking adults, said Diane K. Wagener, projectdirector for the committee on passive smoking ofthe National Academy of Sciences, which releasedsimilar findings last month.

"The report will probably go beyond just thefindings [of the National Academy of Sciences]because it will have to go into the policyimplications somewhat," said Pinney.

Shopland declined to discuss the contents ofthe soon-to-be-released report, but he said thatthe study will concentrate on the scientificaspects of environmental tobacco smoke.

"The study won't get too much into whatpolicies should be implemented," Shopland said. Hesaid that the implications of the report ongovernment policy will depend on how Congress andstate and city legislators respond to thefindings.

"One of the things that you hope comes out ofthe results of science is that they should betranslated into public health policy," saidShopland.

Pinney said that as the chief health officerfor the United States, the Surgeon General islikely to influence public policy significantly."The Surgeon General's reports have become thescientific basis for all of our [health] policy inthis country," he said.

"It may mean that any employer that isconcerned about the health of employees andliability will have to adopt restrictions on thejob," said Pinney. He also recommended thatparents avoid smoking around their children.

Patricia A. Kates, Massachusetts director ofthe Group Against Smoking Pollution (GASP), saidthat she expects the study to strengthen the causeof non-smokers who call for "clean air" in publicplaces.

"I'm hoping that people will finally see theneed for policies" that limit smoking in publicplaces, said Joyce Shui '87 of Winthrop House,president of the Committee on Smoking Policy, agroup of Harvard students lobbying for strictersmoking regulations both at Harvard and in thecommunity at large