If you are living with a smoker, working with a smoker, moving with a smoker, or even near a smoker, you are smoking too. Next time someone smokes near you don’t take it as an inconvenience but consider it to be a serious health-risk.
Why should I be aware of this?
Passive smoking, or secondhand smoke (SHS), is a major source of indoor air pollution. In passive smoking, the non-smoker breathes "sidestream" smoke from a burning cigarette and "mainstream" smoke exhaled by the smoker. Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) is also known as secondhand smoke. It is a combination of sidestream smoke and exhaled mainstream smoke
How does this affect me?
Exposure to passive smoking for as little as 8 to 20 minutes causes physical reactions linked to heart and stroke disease:
- Causes increased heart rate;
- Oxygen supply to the heart decreases; and
- Blood pressure increases due to constriction of blood vessels. This makes the heart work harder
Passive smokers are known to suffer from eye irritation, headache, cough, sore throat, dizziness and nausea. Asthma patients can face a decline in lung function when exposed while children whose parents smoke are likely to contact the disease. As children’s airways are smaller, they breathe faster than adults and, consequently, they actually breathe in comparatively more of the harmful chemicals in the smoke, based on their body weight, than adults do. Tobacco smoke exposure also has a measurable effect on the heart in non-smokers. Just 30 minutes exposure is enough to reduce coronary blood flow.
All about passive smoking
There are over 4000 chemicals (including at least 40 carcinogens) in the form of particles and gases in tobacco smoke. The sidestream smoke contains more potentially toxic gases, such as carbon monoxide, ammonia, dimethylnitrosamine, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide and acrolein, than the mainstream smoke. It also includes particulates such as tar, nicotine, benzene and benzo (a) pyrene and gases like carbon monoxide, ammonia, dimethylnitrosamine, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide and acrolein.
According to certain estimates, exposure to secondhand smoke at homes in the UK causes around 2,700 deaths in people aged 20-64 and a further 8,000 deaths a year among those aged 65 years or above. Exposure to secondhand smoke at work is estimated to cause the death of more than two employed persons per working day across the UK as a whole, including 54 deaths a year in the hospitality industry.
Pregnancy and newborns
If you are pregnant and take a puff, the smoke goes to your child’s body which loses resistance and also weight. Nicotine deprives the child of his required supply of oxygen. Studies have shown 50 percent higher cases of infant mortality among expectant smoking mothers than no- smoking mothers. Sudden death syndrome and cot deaths are also common
Babies exposed to smoke in the womb generally have shorter length, which along with lower weight, exposes them to the risks of developing many other complications. Pregnant women who stop smoking during their pregnancy decrease the risk of these potential health problems in their babies.
Effects on children
Among infants up to 18 months of age, secondhand smoke is associated with as many as 300,000 cases of bronchitis and pneumonia each year. Children and babies who live in a home where there is a smoker:
- Run the risk of asthma, ear, nose and lung diseases
- Are more prone to cot death (sudden infant death syndrome)
- Have greater chances of becoming smokers on growing up
- Are below par on reading and reasoning skills compared to children in smoke-free homes.
- Are at increased risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cancer as adults.
Children (both boys and girls) are three times more likely to smoke if their parents smoke
Around the world
- According to published statistics about 80,000 adults die each year in the 25 European Union countries because of passive smoking
- Another study in China reported that over two million people over the age of 50 were likely to die in the country from chronic bronchitis and emphysema due to passive smoking. The figure would go up to four million if lung cancer and cardiac ailments due to secondary smoking were also taken into account.
- Among industrialized nations, Japan has done the least to fight passive smoking
- A World Health Organization report claims almost half the world's children, about 700 million, are exposed to tobacco smoke which can cause bronchitis and asthma, and it may contribute to cardiovascular disease in adulthood
- Recent public opinion surveys on smoking in public places including cafes, restaurants, fast food outlets, pubs, shopping centers, railway stations, taxis, hospitals, clinics, theatres, football grounds and colleges in London and Great Britain revealed 78% of the people calling for further restrictions on smoking and for the right to work in smoke-free environments
As much as 78% of the public agree that people should be able to work in a smoke-free environment. This includes 76% stating that this should also be true for waiters and waitresses and 61% supporting the right of bar staff to breathe clean air.
Among the tourists surveyed 82% felt smoke-free areas should be compulsory in pubs and bars and 56% wanted totally smoke-free restaurants.
What can I do?
- Make it a must for guests and family members to smoke outside.
- Prevent people from smoking in your (or your child's) bedroom.
- Occupy non-smoking sections of public areas (restaurants, airports, shopping malls, etc.)
- Visit only smoke-free restaurants and shopping centers.
- Ask smokers in the family to consider quitting
- Avail quit smoking medicines with doctor’s prescription. These can approximately double a person's chance of quitting.
- There are many different programs to help people quit smoking. Check with your local health department to learn about free telephone or Internet services for quitting.
- There is almost double the concentration of nicotine in the smoke from the tip of a cigarette than what the smoker directly inhales.
- A smoker does not inhale two thirds of the smoke from a burning cigarette but passes it on to the surrounding environment.
- Children during their formative years are subjected to some of the worst effects of passive smoking
- Your pets are also at risk of developing cancer due to passive smoking
- Passive smoking affects female fertility, making it more difficult to conceive a child.
- Nonsmokers may develop the habit of snoring on exposure to secondhand smoke in their homes
- ETS was found to be a much higher source of pollution than eco-diesel engine, in terms of particulate matter or PM emission.
Air conditioning systems are generally ineffective in removing smoke from the air. In addition, they can undermine the value of having separate smokefree areas by circulating contaminated air to these areas.
High quality air filtering systems are also ineffective. Whilst some systems are able to remove the visible smoke from the air, none are capable of removing the invisible gaseous components of ETS.
Going completely smoke-free is the only way to ensure that people are not exposed to ETS.
- The Big Smoke Debate
- Smoking and Others
- Passive Smoking
- Second Smoking And Pregnancy The Facts
- Facts About Secondhand Smoke