Is second-hand smoking a big deal?

By November 5, 2015Smoking

So, you’re heading out for the evening and one of your friends lights up a cigarette in your car lan messenger. It’s not just your clean clothes and hair that start to smell, it’s your health going up in smoke too! You don’t have to put up with passive smoking… it’s a serious hazard to your health! We’re here to help you stay smoke free!

What is passive smoking?

  • It’s when a non-smoker breathes in the smoke from burning tobacco products (such as cigarettes, cigars or pipes) that is exhaled by a smoker (also termed, “second-hand smoke”).

What is meant by mainstream and side-stream smoke?

  • Main-stream smoke is the smoke that’s inhaled and exhaled by the smoker, via the top end of a cigarette.
  • Side-stream smoke is the smoke that originates from the burning end of a cigarette.

Note: The issue with side-stream smoke is its toxicity: it contains higher levels of poisons and cancer-causing chemicals.

So, how does passive smoking affect our health?

a) Immediate health effects include:

  • eye and throat irritation
  • coughing
  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • triggering of an asthma attack

b) Passive smoking affects children by increasing the risk of:

  • chest infections
  • asthma
  • cot death
  • middle ear infections
  • bacterial meningitis
  • 3 x more likely to start smoking themselves if a family member smokes

c) Passive smoking affects non-smoking adults by causing:

  • heart disease
  • lung cancer
  • stroke
  • increased incidence of throat and larynx cancer

Does smoking inside a vehicle pose a health risk to the other passengers?

  • The inside of a car is a very small, mostly enclosed space and second-hand smoke can therefore reach very high levels.
  • Although opening a window or using an air-conditioner, reduces the level of second-hand smoke, the exposure remains significantly harmful.
  • Because of the carcinogenic (cancer-causing) content of second-hand smoke, there’s no safe level of exposure.
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What can you do to protect yourself from passive smoking?

  • Don’t allow anyone to smoke near you, in your home or car even if the windows are rolled down.
  • Teach your children to avoid second-hand smoke and to speak up against it.
  • Try to choose restaurants that don’t allow smoking in open areas.
  • Continue to set a good example by not smoking yourself.