Second hand smoke is a mixture of smoke from the burning tip of a cigarette (non-filtered), cigar or pipe, and smoke that is breathed out by the smoker. With more than 4000 known substances making up this smoke (including more than 40 known to cause cancer), second-hand smoke (also called environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), is dangerous to anyone who comes into contact with it. If you are exposed to second hand smoke, the act of you breathing it in, is called passive smoking, or involuntary smoking. Environmental smoke can affect anyone, including babies and children. It can even affect an unborn baby if the mother comes into contact with secondhand smoke.
How does passive smoking affect your health? Read on…
Health effects of second hand smoke – statistics from the EPA make bad reading
Did you know, that passive smoking is thought to cause around 3000 lung cancer deaths in non-smokers each year? Second hand smoke is so dangerous, that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified it as a known cause of lung cancer in humans. Its a Class A carcinogen (carcinogen means something that causes cancer)!
Furthermore, the EPA:
- Suggests that ETS increases the risk of bronchitis and pneumonia. (EPA estimates that 150,000 to 300,000 cases annually in infants and young children up to 18 months are attributable to ETS).
- Suggests that ETS increases fluid in the middle ear, causes symptoms of upper respiratory tract irritation, and can cause small reductions in lung function.
- Estimates that up to 1 million asthmatic children have their condition worsened by exposure to ETS.
- Suggests ETS can be a factor in new cases of asthma.
You can read more of environmental smoke, and the effects on your health, over at the EPA website.
Do a search for passive smoking.
According to the EPA, people die from passive smoking. If you are a smoker, think of those around you and quit. You'll need time to stop, so here are some guidelines so those around you don't suffer.
- Don't allow smoking in your home (you or visitors).
- Do not smoke in front of others, whether you are indoors or out.
- Don't allow baby sitters to smoke, or anyone looking after your children.
- Find out about smoking policies at your children's school, and lobby for a ban if it doesn't already exist.
- Push for non-smoking in the workplace if it isn't already. Smoking and non-smoking areas do not work, as smoke drifts around. Haven't you ever been in a bar or restaurant non-smoking area, and smelt smoke?