Secondhand smoke is the mixture of the smoke that is released upon the burning of tobacco and the smoke breathed out by the smoker. As per secondhand smoke facts, a cigarette comprises over 7000 chemicals out of which hundreds are toxic.
Even the smallest amount of secondhand smoke can be harmful. Every year the effects of secondhand smoke cause thousands of deaths in the country. Smoke is known to make the blood sticky, raise “bad” cholesterol in the body and cause extensive damage to the lining of your blood vessels. All of these can lead you to have a stroke or a heart attack.
Secondhand smoke comprises several toxic chemicals, including:
- Carbon monoxide
The harmful chemicals released from smoking linger in the air for hours. Apart from the smoke from the burning of the tobacco, the residue that sticks to the clothing and hair of the smoker as well as linen and upholstery at home can also pose many risks especially for children.
Children are more at risk of suffering from the effects of secondhand smoke as they tend to breathe at a faster rate than adults. Some of the conditions in children that are the result of secondhand smoke are:
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Respiratory infections, including pneumonia and bronchitis
- Frequent asthma attacks
- Ear infections
If the mother smokes at the time of pregnancy, it is dangerous for the developing baby. It can lead to low birth weight, premature delivery, SIDS, problem in learning, and ADHD. The more a pregnant lady smokes, the greater is the danger to her baby.
Also Read: Benefits of Quitting Smoking
Avoiding secondhand smoke
When someone smokes, a large part of the smoke is released into the air and can get into the lungs of anyone who is present close to the smoker. While smoking is not allowed in public places, many people are still exposed to the effects of secondhand smoke, especially kids who live with parents who smoke. Being around tobacco smoke is bad for health and can lead to a host of dangerous ailments. Secondhand smoke can lead you to develop lung cancer or many other kinds of cancer. It is also not good for your health.
With some planning, you can decrease exposure to secondhand smoke. You can follow these simple steps. Stay away from people who are smoking to avoid secondhand smoke. For people who smoke, they should do it far away from other people. It is important to keep your house smoke free, more so if you have children. Keeping children and adults away from smoke will help decrease their chances of developing respiratory infections, severe asthma, cancer, and many other serious conditions.
Do not allow smoking in your house. If anyone wants to smoke, you can ask them to go out and smoke. Do not allow anyone to smoke in your vehicle. If anyone has to smoke while travelling, stop for a smoke break.
People more at risk
Although anyone who spends time around people who smoke has an increased risk of developing smoking related issues, some people are more susceptible to the effects of secondhand smoke. Some such people are:
Service industry employees – people who work in restaurants and bars are exposed to smoke at all times and might absorb harmful substances on a regular basis. They are thus at a higher risk of developing smoking related ailments.
Pregnant women – Secondhand smoke affects a mother-to-be as well as her unborn child. It decreases the oxygen available to both mother and baby, causes the baby’s heart rate to increase, and increases the chances of the baby having low birth weight or being born prematurely.
Also Read: Health Effects of Smoking
The most important thing to do to protect yourself and your family from the effects of secondhand smoke is to quit smoking. If you have a loved one who smokes, encourage him or her to quit the habit. You can consult a healthcare professional to find out ways to quit the habit and lead a healthy life.