What's the Deal with Second-Hand Smoke?

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On my last blog post, I talked about the dangers of smoking. But did you know that even if you don't smoke, you still aren't safe from its negative effects? This is especially true if you always stay near smokers. exposing you to secondhand smoke. Exposure to secondhand smoke is just as bad as actually smoking. 

✽  What is Secondhand Smoke?  ✽


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Secondhand smoke is a combination of two types of smoke that come from burning tobacco. These are the smoke that comes from the cigarette, cigar, or pipe (sidestream smoke) and the smoke breathed out by the smoker (mainstream smoke). It contains more than 7,000 chemical compounds. At least 250 of them are toxic and cause various kinds of disease such as cancer and heart diseases. Cigars and pipes are more dangerous because they create more secondhand smoke than cigarettes since they have more tobacco that burns longer. Furthermore, sidestream smoke is more toxic than mainstream smoke because it has higher concentrations of cancer-causing agents, also known as carcinogens. It also contains small particles that can easily enter the lungs and the body's cells. Exposure to secondhand smoke is also considered as involuntary or passive smoking.

When someone smokes, all the smoke doesn't go into their lungs. A huge chunk of it is breathed out into the air for anyone nearby to inhale. Secondhand smoke poses the same dangers as actually smoking when inhaled. In fact, secondhand smoke increases your risk factor for lung cancer--and other types of cancer--by as much as 30% even if you've never smoked a day in your life. It may even lead to emphysema and various heart diseases. 


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Smoke can also damage the lining of your blood vessels, make your blood stickier, and even raise bad cholesterol levels which may eventually lead to a stroke or heart attack. When you hang out with smokers, remember that there is no safe amount of secondhand smoke. Even a small amount of smoke inhaled can be harmful. 

✽  Effects of Secondhand Smoke  ✽


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Long-term exposure to secondhand smoke has been associated with many serious health conditions in non-smokers such as:

  • Lung cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Premature death
  • Asthma attacks
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Production of extra phlegm 

While secondhand smoke is bad for you and me, it's especially hazardous for babies and children since their bodies, lungs, and other internal organs haven't really fully developed yet. It can also affect the development of the fetus inside the womb, so pregnant mothers should also make it a point to avoid smokers to avoid inhalation of secondhand smoke. 

  • Pregnant women who are exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to give birth to babies with low birth weight.
  • Newborn babies exposed to secondhand smoke right after birth are more prone to developing lung infections than other infants.
  • Children with smoker parents are more likely to develop serious respiratory problems such as bronchitis, pneumonia, and asthma.
  • These kids may also develop serious ear infections over time.
  • Secondhand smoke also aggravates the symptoms of asthma by causing more frequent and severe attacks. 
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is also another thing to worry about exposing infants to secondhand smoke. 

Have you heard about that infant who died because he was exposed to the secondhand smoke of a guest on the day of his christening? It was supposed to be a day of celebration and festivities but ended up being a tragedy. 


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Watch and listen to this video to find out more about how secondhand smoke affects young children.

Video Credit: American Medical Association (AMA) via Youtube

✽  How to Avoid Secondhand Smoke?  ✽


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Smoke may linger for several hours, especially in enclosed spaces. So, even if the smoker has already left the room before you entered, you may still be at risk of exposure to secondhand smoke. Even airing buildings out to clean the air cannot remove secondhand smoke that easily. The only way to protect yourself from secondhand smoke is to avoid smoking areas and not allow smoking inside the building, but even that doesn't guarantee your safety from this noxious smoke. Here are more ways to protect yourself against secondhand-smoke.

  • Make sure friends, visitors, and even family members don't smoke inside your home and vehicle. 
  • When dining at a restaurant, make sure that you are seated at the non-smoking area.
  • When traveling, stay in smoke-free hotels and rent smoke-free cars only.
  • Make sure that the places your children spend their time are smoke-free.  
  • Ask relatives and caregivers to never smoke anywhere near your children.
  • If you smoke, quit. Quit smoking now. That's the only way you can truly protect your family from secondhand smoke. 

Did you know that the children of smoker parents have a higher chance of picking up the habit of smoking? Ask yourself, do you really want to teach your children how to smoke at such a very young age? My dad used to be a chain smoker. Lucky for us he stopped while my siblings and I were still very young or we would have ended up becoming smokers ourselves. 


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✽  Final Thoughts  ✽

Just because you don't smoke doesn't mean you are safe from its negative side effects, especially if you linger around those who do. Secondhand smoke is a very real and dangerous thing that you must avoid at all costs. If you can, stay away from smokers while they smoke. You should also prohibit them from smoking inside your home and car, especially if you have young children. And as if secondhand smoke is not bad enough, recent studies have also found out that there is such as thing as thirdhand smoke. I'll be talking more about this on my next blog, so stay tuned!

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Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful day ahead of you and keep smiling. :)

Written by Chineyes for bitLanders

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About the author


A software tester by profession, a mother by heart, and a writer by passion.

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