Also known as Secondhand Smoking, Passive Smoking means smoking in other people’s tobacco smoke. It poses a great threat to non-smokers and can cause lung cancer in them. Passive Smoking increases the risk of other cancers like that of the larynx (voice box) and pharynx (upper throat) in people who do not smoke.
Second-hand smoke is also called Environmental Tobacco Smoke and constitutes of two different kinds of smoke:
Mainstream Smoke: comes from smoke exhaled by smokers.
Sidestream Smoke: comes from the smoke of burning cigarettes, cigars, pipes or tobacco in a hookah. Such smoke has a higher concentration of carcinogens and is more harmful than mainstream smoke. The smaller particles present in this kind of smoke can easily enter one’s body and reach the lungs.
Passive smoking can also cause stroke and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in adults. In children exposed to secondhand smoke, it can lead to respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma.
Health Risks Caused By Passive Smoking:
For Pregnant Women:
Smoking can pose a serious threat to the developing fetus. Pregnant women who smoke or are continuously exposed to passive smoke are vulnerable to fatal consequences such as:
- Premature birth and low birth weight of the baby
- Stillborn baby
- Complication during delivery
- Passive smoking can cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in children, apart from fatal sleep conditions.
- Infants exposed to an environment composed of tobacco smoke for the first 18 months of their life have high chances of getting bronchitis, pneumonia or other respiratory diseases. They are also prone to getting frequent cold and cough. Their lungs are weaker and underdeveloped. Such children are more likely to develop asthma symptoms and also have more asthma attacks.
- School-aged children of parents who smoke have increased exposure to conditions of cough, phlegm, wheeze, and breathlessness.
For People Whose Partners Smoke:
- People who are surrounded by smokers are prone to coronary heart disease and stroke.
- Passive smoking makes the blood thick and sticky and more likely to clot. Thus, increasing the risk of fatal heart conditions.
- Passive smoking can also reduce the level of antioxidants in the blood.
- Passive smoking adversely affects how the blood vessels regulate blood flow in your body.
- It is evident that non-smokers who have had long term exposure to secondhand smoke have 20%-30% higher chances of suffering from lung cancer.
- They can also be affected by health conditions such as nasal sinus cancer, throat cancer, short or long-term respiratory problems, loss of lung function and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
How To Lower The Risk Involved In Passive Smoking?
- Try avoiding smoking inside your house.
- Ask the guests visiting your home to smoke outdoors.
- Try not to smoke in your car.
- Try not to smoke in a closed space.
- Avoid taking children to places that are not smoke-free or from where you cannot move out easily.
Smoke-Free Air Laws In the United States:
In the United States, passive smoking impacts about 50,000 people each year, according to the U.S. Centers For Disease Control And Prevention.
27 states in the United States have enacted comprehensive smoke-free laws covering workplaces, restaurants, and bars. The States are: Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.
Connecticut, New Hampshire, and North Carolina have strong smoke-free laws enacted covering restaurants and bars.
There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Even brief exposure can be harmful thus enacting strong laws is the only way to eliminate exposure to passive smoking. Numerous studies have documented the fact that having smoke-free policies do not have an adverse impact on the economic or hospitality approach of any place.
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