Smoking has been associated with myriad health risks. Indeed, there are 1.2 billion people in the world who smoke. And unfortunately, this figure continues to increase. As we all know, smoking is a habit that triggers several fatal diseases such as - Lung Cancer, Mouth Cancer, Skin Cancer and Heart Attack. A shocking 90 percent of the lung cancer patients around the world are regular smokers! A smoker smokes, in full knowledge that he/she is harming his or her own health. They have accepted the terms. But is it fair to punish all those around? Alas, a smoker is not only damaging his own health, but is also risking the health of all the individuals around him. Something that these innocent people did not sign up for!
When you smoke and exhale the smoke, the people present around you breathe in the smoke, this is called passive smoking.
What is Passive Smoking?
Passive Smoking is inhalation of smoke coming off from a cigarette, pipe or cigar by an individual who did not intend to inhale; which is also referred to as ‘Second-Hand Smoke’ (SHS) and Environmental Tobacco Smoke (STS); Passive smoking has serious health implications, not only for adults and children but also for unborn children.
Not only that, passive smoking can also lead to unexpected death amongst children. What a smoker fails to understand is that he is not only putting himself at risk, he is putting everyone else around him/her at risk as well.
Passive Smoking Facts
- The smoke that is exhaled has about 4000 different types of chemicals, 50 of those chemicals have been associated with cancer!
- According to World Health Organization (WHO); 600,000 die due to diseases caused by passive smoking. World Health Organization also stated that even the smallest amount of tobacco smoke can be harmful for an individual.
- Passive smoking causes a variety of life threatening diseases including Lung Cancer, recent surveys showed that 90 percent of the lung cancer patients were passive smokers.
- 40 percent of the children around the globe are exposed to tobacco smoke, the effects of passive smoking is even greater amongst children of age less than 15. Hence, World Health Organization started ‘Smoke Free Day’, the purpose of this event was to create awareness about the risks of smoking. Many countries have banned smoking in public, which has improved the situation.
Passive Smoker # 1 – An Unborn Child
Many women continue smoking during pregnancy; this can have serious implications on the health of the unborn child. Passive smoking and smoking both can affect the development of fetus. Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight. It also makes the delivery process more complicated which leads to increase in infancy death. Here are the following effects of passive smoking on an unborn child.
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Premature birth
- Bleeding issues
- Placental issues
- The baby may have a small head circumference
- The baby may be born underweight. This can lead to several healthy problems.
Note: Even if an expectant mother is exposed to tobacco smoke, it has the same implications as a woman who is a first-hand smoker.
Passive Smoking # 2 - Children
Did you know that passive smoking is particularly harmful to children under the age of 15! A child who is constantly exposed to tobacco smoke has greater chances of developing Respiratory problems such as Bronchitis. It even hampers the smooth functioning of the lungs; the child is more vulnerable to common diseases such as Colds, Cough and Infections. Passive smoking is also the cause of sudden unexpected death in infancy. In the long term, too much exposure to tobacco smoke can cause brain tumors and also effect the smooth functioning of the brain. The Global Health Body stated that approximately 165,000 children die due to respiratory infections caused by passive smoking! Here are what kids are in jeopardy for.
- In the US, passive smoke is the culprit behind above 300,000 cases of pneumonia and bronchitis in both infants and children.
- An increased likelihood of developing cancer later in life.
- An increased likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease.
- More likely to suffer from under-developed lungs.
- Higher chances of severe asthma and fierce asthma attacks.
- Will typically suffer from ear infections
Passive Smoking # 3 Adults
Passive smokers have higher risk of developing lung cancer as compared to the smoker himself! Passive smoking has serious implications on adults as well; it greatly increases the risk of cardiac diseases such as heart attack. The smoke that a person inhales from the environment can make the blood more sticky, this leads to blood clot. It may also cause the arteries to become narrower in the long term; this would hamper the efficient blood flow.
Mild Complications Caused By Second-Hand Smoke
- Eye Irritation
- Throat Pains
Serious Complications Caused By Second-Hand Smoke
- Lung Cancer - The link between lung cancer and second-hand smoke is not nothing new! The Environmental Protection Agency EPA declared that secondhand smoke is culprit behind approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths yearly in American nonsmokers.
- Heart Problems - Passive smoke is believed to estimate for about 46,000 heart disease deaths annually. Second hand smoke has been likened to stroke and atherosclerosis - hardening or the arteries.
- Severe asthma attacks.
Often smokers forget that this one addiction can be a cause of death for an innocent bystander. Passive smoking is a serious issue and World Health Organization has been working tirelessly to solve this problem, many governments have taken action and have banned public smoking. Don’t forget that even if you smoke at home, you put your whole family at risk! The wise thing to do is avoid smoking altogether.
Dr Heather Wipfli of the University of Southern California said: "There are well acknowledged uncertainties in estimates of disease burden. However, there can be no question that the 1.2bn smokers in the world are exposing billions of non-smokers to second-hand smoke, a disease-causing indoor air pollutant."