Know The Health Risks Secondhand Smoke Causes
“I was diagnosed with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) even though I haven’t had a smoke all my life,” opens up 56-year-old Debbie. “Both my parents were heavy smokers back in the days, though. They were chain-smokers and smoked 3 packs a day. They both died of lung-related diseases. And even if I never picked up their habit, I guess I’m going to die like a smoker, too.”
Debbie is just one of over 600,000 (according to the 2010 statistics) people affected by passive smoking all over the world. What is passive smoking? And why is being a passive smoker more dangerous than smoking an actual ciggy stick?
Defining Passive Smoking
The basic definition of passive smoking or secondhand smoke is inhaling the smoke that is both blown by the smoker himself and the one from the lighted cigarette. While smokers have the protection of the cigarette filter afforded to them when they take a hit, passive smokers don’t. They get to inhale cigarette smoke in its whole entity – with the over 4000 chemicals it contains including 70 that are cancer-causing agents.
…one person dies every 6 seconds from a tobacco-related disease, in the U.S. alone over 20% of all deaths are tobacco related, tobacco contains over 4,000 chemicals—many of them carcinogens—and up to 50% of tobacco users will be killed by the product. — Azadeh Aalai Ph.D.
The Dangers of Passive Smoking
Respiratory Maladies – Secondhand smoke is known to aggravate asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Immediate reactions to inhaling smoke from cigarettes in people with these conditions include increased coughing, wheezing breathlessness.
Accordingly, 8-20 seconds after a person inhales secondhand smoke, instantaneous body responses occur like an increase in heart rate and the narrowing of blood vessels which could result in an increase in blood pressure as well.
Lung Cancer – Secondhand smoke ups the chance for a non-smoker to have lung cancer by up to 30%. In the US alone, passive smoking has caused the deaths of over 7,300 non-smoking individuals with lung cancer.
Cardiovascular Diseases – Passive smoking causes the death of some 34,000 people to heart diseases annually in the US alone. It increases the risk of a non-smoking person suffering from stroke or developing a heart-related illness by up to 30%.
Work and family problems often cause people who have quit smoking to relapse. — John Smith Ph.D.
Passive Smoking and Pregnancy
When a pregnant woman smokes, she puts herself at risk of suffering from a miscarriage or having a baby that’s born prematurely or has a low birth weight. Other than that, passive smoking puts their babies – even those who are still inside the womb – at risk of dying from SIDS.
To get people to quit, then, we have to find a way to intervene and change the payoff structures underlying the decision. — Sarah Cotterill, PhD
Counter the Dangers Passive Smoking Causes!
Non-smoking parents should take the necessary precautions when their kids get exposed to family members who smoke. Asking nicely that the cigarette should be put out or staying away from smokers are some of the steps you can do.
Don’t allow smoking inside the car even when the windows are down.
For expecting moms, it is best if you quit smoking for good. Not only are you ensuring your baby’s health while he’s still inside your tummy, you’re also lessening the baby’s risk of dying from SIDS once he’s born and you’re setting a good example for him to follow as he grows up.
Smokers and cigarette advocates may say that these precautionary steps are just too obsessive-compulsive. After all, there are a lot of people exposed to secondhand smoke yet were still able to live long and healthy. However, it’s better to lean on the side of precaution and prevention than be filled with regret in the end.