It is not only those who smoke who are in danger of suffering from various diseases that smoking causes, but those who are near them are endangered as well. Such cases when a person who does not smoke experiences the effects of smoking is known as secondhand smoke.
What is secondhand smoke?
Secondhand smoke is also known as either environmental tobacco smoke or ETS or passive smoke. It is important to know that secondhand smoke is not one smoke but a mixture of two forms of smoke. Both of these smokes come from the burning tobacco. Sidestream smoke is the one that comes out of the end of a lighted cigarette and mainstream smoke is the one that a smoker breaths out him or herself. It is important not to make a mistake of thinking that both of these smokes cause the same amount of damage because that is not true. Sidestream smoke is known to have more carcinogens and that is why it is far more dangerous than mainstream smoke. In addition to this, sidestream smoke also has smaller particles, which makes it easier for them to enter a person’s system.
It is not an uncommon situation that a person who does not smoke is exposed to secondhand smoke. Such a situation is known as passive smoking or involuntarily smoking. A person who does not smoke but breaths in nicotine and other toxins from secondhand smoke experiences the same effect as if he or she were smoking. Those who are exposed to more secondhand smoke are at more danger of suffering from various ill-effects.
Why is secondhand smoke a problem?
There are a lot of reasons why secondhand smoke is a problem. One of these reasons is because a person is exposed to it almost all the time. There are a few places which are most problematic and a person needs to be careful when he or she is in these places.
Adults are exposed to secondhand smoke quite a lot when they are at work. According to various health administrations, secondhand smoke has met all the standards that it needs in order to be classified as a potential cancer causing agent at workplace. Due to the fact that the level of exposure to secondhand smoke at which a person is in danger of developing cancer is not known and cannot be established, the administrations recommend that secondhand smoke be reduced to the lowest possible levels.
The data shows an increase in lung cancer and heart diseases in people who do not smoke but are exposed to secondhand smoke at work. Even if the smokers are separated from those who do not smoke, the effects of secondhand smoke cannot be avoided as long as people smoke inside the building.
A public place is another place where every person can get exposed to secondhand smoke. Places like restaurants, shopping centers, schools and even public transportation are known to be dangerous for people who do not smoke.
Home is another place where people can get exposed to secondhand smoke. However, this is the place where the biggest change can be made as every person can make his or her home a smoke-free place. This is thought to be one of the healthiest things a person can do for his or her family. It is very important for the home to be a smoke-free area especially if there are children. Children are a lot more sensitive to secondhand smoke than adults. The experts claim that there are a lot more children who suffer from asthma, lung infections and ear infections because they are exposed to secondhand smoke. It is important for the parents to realize that these problems are seriously dangerous and may even endanger the life of their child. According to the data, there are more than 21 million children who live in homes with someone who smokes. The data also claims that nearly 75% of all children in the United States have detectable levels of cotinine in their blood.
Secondhand smoke kills children and adults who don’t smoke!
The US Environmental Protection Agency has declared secondhand smoke as a human carcinogen which means that secondhand smoke is an agent that causes cancer.
There are more than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke and at least 60 of these chemicals are known to be cancer agents.
There are a lot of ways in which secondhand smoke can cause damage to the health.
According to the data, every year there are more than 46,000 deaths in the United States caused by heart diseases in people who do not smoke. 3,400 people who die due to lung cancer are non-smokers.
There are a lot of other breathing problems which people who do not smoke face due to secondhand smoke like coughing, mucus, chest discomfort and reduced lung function. Every year there are more than 300,000 cases of lung infections in children who are not older than three years of age. 200,000 children out of 1 million are known to be suffering from asthma.
Pregnant women who are exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to give birth to low birth-weight babies.
Secondhand smoke is even linked to breast cancer.