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June 20, 1986

Smoking Areas Are Ineffective in Sick Buildings

JAMA. 1986;255(23):3244-3245. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370230050012

To the Editor.—  The Feb 28 issue of JAMA seemed excellent until I reached the editorial on page 1051. In telling what the American Medical Association had done at its home office, the editorial revealed that the American Medical Association has been trapped by the fallacy that designation of smoking areas prevents pollution of the air by tobacco smoke in the building. Unless there is special air-handling equipment, the nonsmoking areas will be polluted by the air that is recirculated from the smoking areas. Equally important, the invisible tobacco smoke air pollution increases throughout the day.In a modern building designed with the usual heating, air-conditioning, and ventilating equipment, there is a continuous recirculation of the air in the building. This results in workers suffering from the "tight building syndrome"1 or the "sick building syndrome."2The problem is that unless adequate fresh air is introduced into the system,