Truth is using tobacco products is a matter of choice. You don’t smoke because you understand the dangers and choose not to smoke. Unfortunately, some folks just like to smoke. No matter what information is presented as to the long term health effects, financial cost or cultural impact. Some people choose to smoke.
Keep in mind, these same people are Moms, Dads, Uncles, Aunts, Brothers, Sisters and fellow tribal members. Decent upright people we know and love.
That being the case, we also know that they love us and would never do anything to intentionally hurt us or their children. We would like to take a moment and discuss something that they may not have considered before.
Secondhand smoke causes and contributes to various health problems, including heart disease and lung cancer. And with adult smokers numbering about 1 billion worldwide, secondhand smoke exposure is virtually unavoidable for children and adults who don’t smoke.
Understand what’s in secondhand smoke, and consider ways to protect yourself and those you love from it.
What’s in secondhand smoke?
Secondhand smoke includes the smoke that a smoker exhales (mainstream smoke) and the smoke that comes directly from the burning tobacco product (sidestream smoke).
Secondhand smoke contains toxic chemicals, including:
- Ammonia, used in cleaning products
- Benzene, found in gasoline
- Cadmium, a toxic metal
- Cyanide, used in chemical weapons
- Formaldehyde, an industrial chemical
It isn’t just the smoke that’s a concern, though. The residue that clings to household dust and surfaces is called thirdhand smoke. Young children are particularly at risk for thirdhand smoke exposure due to their frequent contact with contaminated materials, such as carpeting.
How risky is secondhand smoke?
Secondhand smoke causes or contributes to serious health problems, including:
- Cancer. Secondhand smoke is a known risk factor for lung cancer.
- Heart disease. Exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of heart disease by about 25% to 30%.
- Chronic lung disease. Exposure to secondhand smoke even for a short time causes measurable decreases in lung function. This can lead to chronic lung disease.
Secondhand smoke poses additional risks for children, who are especially vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke. Problems include:
- Reduced birth weight. Exposure to secondhand smoke during pregnancy increases the risk of having a baby with a reduced birth weight.
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Secondhand smoke exposure is believed to increase the risk of SIDS.
- Asthma and respiratory illness. Secondhand smoke exposure is linked with the increased risk — and severity — of childhood asthma and wheezing. Infants of parents who smoke are more likely to develop bronchitis and pneumonia during the first year of life.
Information provided by Mayo Clinic