While the media and the news have been trying to show people the dangers of smoking that affect their lives, there seems to be less emphasis placed on the millions of nonsmokers who are negatively affected by cigarette smoke every year. The severe health problem that is passive smoking affects everyone that breaths in the toxic air, regardless of their age, gender, immunity levels or health. However, science has found that it’s the children and unborn babies that are affected by the greatest severity. In this article, we will be looking into passive smoking and how it affects children’s health.
What Is Passive Smoking?
Passive smoking has played a part in the deaths of over 2.5 million people since the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report was started. Over 34,000 people die prematurely due to heart disease and 8,000 directly due to passive smoking every year.
If you haven’t heard of the term passive smoking, you probably have heard of ‘second-hand smoking’ (SHS) which entails breathing in the tobacco smoke of others. This passive smoke is also known as environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) which is a combination of mainstream smoke and sidestream smoke. Mainstream smoke is the smoke that the primary smoker exhales while sidestream smoke is the smoke that drifts from the lit end of the cigarette.
What Happens When Someone Smokes Indoors?
We have all been in a situation where we find ourselves inside a room with a smoker enjoying his or her cigarette. So, what exactly happens? Well, you need to understand that tobacco smoke is known to lay low in the room which causes everyone around to bread in the passive smoke. While it’s true that hot smoke rises to the ceiling, unfortunately, tobacco smoke has been found to cool quickly. This fast cooling smoke can create a low-lying cloud of smoke in the room which is very harmful to anyone including children or babies who inhales this smoke.
Is Passive Smoking Worse Than Active Smoking?
When the topic of second-hand smoking comes up, the first question that most people ask is if passive smoking is as harmful as active smoking towards children or is it the other way around. Our research has found the following:
Regardless of your exposure, if you inhale the smoke produced from the cigarette, you are exposing yourself to the harmful chemicals and effects of cigarette smoke. There is also no safe limit to the exposure of the smoke, so even a little bit is hazardous for anyone who is around. It should also be noted that children and infants are more susceptible to being affected negatively.
What Is In A Cigarette?
Each cigarette is made up of around 600 ingredients which release more than 7000 chemicals when the cigarette is lit. of these 7000 and more compounds, more than 70 have been found to cause (or significantly increase risk) of cancer. Many other chemicals are also poisonous and addictive which have been added to improve flavor, enhance your toxin tolerance and get you hooked.
Many of these chemicals are the reason children as young as a few years old are getting addicted to smoking cigarettes. And if you are wondering, these chemicals are also present for those who take in passive smoke.
While listing all 600 ingredients isn’t feasible, here are some of the more toxic and harmful ingredients in a cigarette:
- Angelica root extract: Causes cancer in animals
- Formaldehyde: Can cause lung cancer
- Polonium: Is a radioactive element known to cause cancer
- Pesticides and fungicides: Can cause birth defects and cancers
- Nickel: Can increase risk of lung infections
- Cadmium: Can cause prostate and lung cancer
- Arsenic: Found in rat poisons
- Ammonia: Is a household cleaner
- Benzene: Is made into synthetic rubber and dyes
- Cyanide: Is a fatal poison
- Benzene: Can cause leukemia
- Carbon monoxide: Is a poisonous gas
What Are The Effects Of Passive Smoking On Babies & Children?
We are all aware of the risk of cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer due to cancer, but passive smoking is also very harmful to babies and children. Cot death has been found to be the leading cause of death in healthy infants in the world. This cot death is known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and causes the sudden, unexpected and unexplained death of a baby under a year of age.
The risk of SIDS increases when women smoke during their pregnancies as well as when babies are exposed to passive smoking after being born. Studies have found that the reason many babies die due to SIDS is that the chemicals in passive smoke affect the baby’s brain which interferes with its breathing mechanism.
In case of older children, it’s been found that they tend to get sick with higher frequency when they are around parents who often smoke. This happens because their lungs are not as developed (compared to children not exposed to SHS) due to the passive smoke inhalation.
These children are also more susceptible to coughing, wheezing as well as getting pneumonia and bronchitis. Passive smoking has also shown to trigger asthma attacks with greater severity and frequency, which can, in some cases, be fatally dangerous.
Is Third Hand Smoking Real?
Third-hand smoking is not a myth but a real concern that can be harmful to everyone who is exposed, including pets, adults, children, and toddlers. This is because third-hand smoking is the exposure to the toxic agents from the smoke that has accumulated on the items exposed to second-hand smoke. These items include clothes, furniture, carpets, curtains, walls and most other things around the house.
This new concept is gaining ground and recognition of the threat that it poses your children and you. However, if you are wondering about how to stop third-hand smoke, it’s simple: stop exposing the area to second-hand smoke.
To combat health problems in children due to passive smoking, we need to increase the awareness of the harm second-hand smoking causes nonsmokers. Many places around the world are doing their part in discouraging smoking, but this seems to have little impact on active and passive smoking around the world. You can do your part by becoming better informed and sharing this article with those who might find it helpful.