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The effects of secondhand smoke

  • Published
  • By Renee Wilcox
  • 375th Health Promotion

It’s thought by a vast majority of people that secondhand smoke doesn’t have the same effect as it would on someone who is smoking themselves.

However, that’s not true. Secondhand smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals, hundreds of which are toxins and over 50 are carcinogens.

Secondhand smoke doesn’t have a risk-free level; it affects all those that are around, including the pets.

Even breathing in a small amount of secondhand smoke can have adverse effects on the body.

According to the Centers for Disease control and Prevention, secondhand smoke can cause a numerous amount of health problems to those that are breathing it in. Especially with infants and children who are more susceptible to more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections, ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome. Secondhand smoke can also cause diseases and illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, asthma and COPD amongst other things.

The CDC also states that nonsmokers that are exposed to secondhand smoke are 20-30 percent more likely to get lung cancer than those that are not exposed to it. The risk for heart disease increases to 25-30 percent for nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke (an estimated 42,000 deaths from heart disease in non-smokers), and 20-30 percent increased risk for stroke.

Secondhand smoke can also cause problems in the unborn baby. If a pregnant woman smokes, it can cause the baby to have weaker lungs than other babies which in turn can cause other serious health problems. Smoking while pregnant can also increase the mother’s risk of having a miscarriage or causing the baby to be born prematurely or with low birth weight.

Some tips to help prevent and protect your loved ones from secondhand smoke include: don’t smoke in the house, change your clothes before hugging, don’t allow smoking in the vehicle even if the windows are down, make sure your child’s daycare center and/or school is a tobacco-free area, and teach your children to stay away from secondhand smoke. For more information on secondhand smoke or our tobacco cessation class please call Scott AFB Health Promotion at 256-7139.