I was going to ignore any more of the 3rd hand smoke “research” for a while but this is just much too impressive a work of scholarship to pass up. And as much of the most important and well thought out tobacco related research, it comes out of California.
Though I have not been able to gain access to the source article yet, I believe the abstract (Residual tobacco smoke pollution in used cars for sale: Air, dust, and surfaces) gives us enough to comment on until that time. The lead author, Georg Matt, appears to be running with the ball that he originally kicked off a few years ago (you could say he is to 3rd hand smoke what Glantz is to smoking in the movies).
I’m sure that his team found exactly what they were looking for with their space age measuring devices (imagine a CSI scenario: barely lit but with flashlight beams striking out, and swabs, and knowing glances) -higher levels of nicotine contamination in vehicles used by smokers; the issue is what they have done with that information. The last sentence in the abstract reads: Disclosure requirements and smoke-free certifications could help protect nonsmoking buyers of used cars.
Protect them? So otherwise these buyers would suffer and possibly die if they bought one of these tainted autos? Or is Matt in the market to buy a vehicle and is looking for another way to get a discount?
If we buy the premise that we need to certify smoke free surfaces to protect consumers then any vehicle or structure that used to be smoked in remains contaminated and an actual risk to your health. You would need to be concerned about any airplane that is older than 10 years, any public structure and any house that was not built in the last few years. Though some might have never had a smoker on the premises, most have.
If you care about 3rd hand smoke, wait til they invent a personal device that you can use to scan for any contaminants on surfaces. You will no longer want to sit down anywhere, get into your bed, make food on your counter, and if you bother scanning your food, you won’t want to eat that either. And once you scan your own skin, it will be game over.
A contaminant free world is a sterile world, a dead world. Getting a little bit dirty is normal; it means you are alive.
-Paul L. Bergen