Friday, January 17, 2014

Smoking Around Others

Smokers might believe that they are only hurting themselves when they light up a cigarette. But there is mounting evidence that secondhand smoke is dangerous to the health of adults and children. Because the medical and scientific evidence is so overwhelming, many state governments have eliminated smoking in public places.

Cigarette Smoke Ingredients

Cigarette smoke is made up of more than 4,000 toxic chemicals according to the Canadian anti-tobacco group Tobacco Truth, including ammonia, lead, toluene and arsenic. More than 50 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer. Toluene, for example, is a chemical agent found in commercial paint thinners. These chemicals are present in cigarette smoke, and they're in the air you breathe if you're in a car or office when someone is smoking. Because it can take an hour or longer for secondhand smoke to dissipate, you could be inhaling residual chemicals long after that cigarette has been put out.

Health Hazards of Secondhand Smoke

The external effects of secondhand smoke are irritation of the respiratory system, itchy and watery eyes, a rough cough and stuffy sinuses. According to Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, the internal health effects include cancer (3,000 nonsmoker deaths annually), respiratory problems such as asthma and heart problems (48,500 nonsmoker deaths annually). Lung cancers and severe chronic bronchitis have developed as a direct result of secondhand smoke. Other specific damage includes the thickening of the carotid artery wall, leading to heart disease. Exposure to secondhand smoke can damage the epidermis permanently, aging the skin faster than usual.

Secondhand Smoke Effects on Children

Children who have been exposed to secondhand smoke are likely to develop long-term, chronic respiratory problems. The children most affected by cigarette smoke are infants and toddlers, because they are still in the developmental stage, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which claims the lives of 2,500 children a year, has been linked in some cases to smoking during pregnancy, according to Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights.

Smoking as an Example

Smoking around others sets a bad example. If you decide to smoke, you make the statement to others around you that this is acceptable social behavior. Others may choose to follow your habit and endanger their health. Subliminal messages that smoking is acceptable are everywhere: in television shows, movies and songs. Especially susceptible to these messages are children. Parents who smoke around their children not only hurt their own health but raise children who are more prone to become smokers as adults than children who come from nonsmoking households. An adult smoker with children can help them best by quitting.


Smoking is not just inconsiderate of others, but it's also dangerous to them. Quitting smoking---or at least quitting smoking around others---is a sign of respect for other people and their health.

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