Passive smoking is as dangerous as active smoking. There is no safe level exposure to second hand smoke; the best solution is to stop smoking.
Passive Smoking kills just as active smoking:
Many people do not take into cognizance the health implications of second hand smoke. When you ask people whether they do smoke; the most popular answer will be, ‘I don’t smoke cigarette’ because people have been sensitized so much about the dangers of smoking cigarette and even on the packets, it’s written, “smoking can kill you” or “smoking is dangerous to your health”. But when you talk about second hand smoke, especially in the third world, some people will look at you as if they don’t understand the words ‘second hand’ and ‘smoke’.
In our homes, offices, restaurants, pubs and even on the streets, second hand smoke often fills the air and we just walk through it thinking we are safe from the hazards of smoking; no we are not, we are as vulnerable to the hazards as the smokers themselves. It’s a threat to everyone because we all live in a heterogeneous society where we can’t live in isolation – we need people and people need us.
It has been documented by both the British Medical Journal and the Journal of the American Medical Association that exposure to second hand smoke increases the risk of heart diseases among passive smokers.
Equipped with these and many other research results both from World Health Organization WHO and other institutions, there is the need to stop smoking so that we can be free from the carnage of second and third hand smoke syndrome. Third hand smoke is the substance that emits from the residue of smoked tobacco; for example, cigarette stubs ashes etc.
What is second hand smoke?
Second hand smoke (SHS), also called Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is the smoke from tobacco products exhaled by others. Passive smoking is the inhalation of both the side stream and mainstream of second hand smoke or environmental tobacco smoke permeated into the environment by tobacco product smokers. The side stream is the smoke that goes out from a lighted tobacco product, while the mainstream is the exhaled smoke from the smoker.
Second hand smoke is the side stream and mainstream smoke from cigarette, bidis and water pipes. Bidi is cheap cigarette made from coarse tobacco that are normally smoked by the lowly mostly in ghettos and Water pipe is a pipe for smoking cigarette or marijuana that incorporates a water container through which the smoke is drawn and cooled; both produces smoke just like the cigarette. (This involves inhaling carcinogens, as well as other toxic components, that are present in second hand tobacco smoke).
Everyone is exposed to the dangers of passive smoking because nothing can hinder the flow of the second hand smoke from spreading even to the distance where the smoker can not imagine. Smoking in a confinement or in a well ventilated place does not in any way reduce the effect of second hand smoke because it flows with the air even into locked rooms and offices.
Effects of second hand smoke:
Conclusively, researches all over the world including those monitored by World Health Organization WHO, undoubtedly confirmed that those exposed to involuntary smoking are likely to suffer same sickness suffered by active smokers of tobacco products. The more you are exposed to passive smoking, the more vulnerable you are to diseases associated with active smoking. In some cases, passive smoking could be more dangerous than active smoking because, most smokers are aware of it’s implication and somehow learnt how to manage their health or can I say ‘postpone the evil day’; while some passive smokers might not discover in time the cause of their ailments and may die in the process.
Short term effects of passive smoking includes, Headaches, Dizziness, Sour throat, Dry cough, Difficulty in breathing as being choked in the case of asthma and Ear, Nose and Throat infections.
(1) Long term effects: Epidemiological studies show that non-smokers exposed to second hand smoke are at risk of many of the health problems associated with direct smoking. Diseases include cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and failure, palpitation of the heart etc; Lungs diseases and cancers, Breast cancers etc; Atherosclerosis and Respiratory system diseases.
Second hand smoke in infants causes sudden death and in pregnant women it causes low birth weight, brain tumor among other numerous diseases that causes Sudden Infant Death.
Facts we should know about second hand smoke:
A thorough and detailed sensitization of people is needed to bring full awareness of the dangers and hazards of second hand smoke. However, there are some facts we should know about second hand smoke so as to be able to proffer reliable solutions.
(1) We must understand that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke so we should know what we are facing when we live in an environment contaminated with tobacco smoke.
(2) There are more than 4000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, of which at least 250 are harmful and 50 from it are known to be carcinogens (the cause of cancer).
(3) Smoking in confined or ventilated areas does not protect non-smokers from second-hand smoke. Second-hand smoke can spread along with the air to areas one can never expect.
(4) Youths exposed to second hand smoke at home are likely to start smoking than those not exposed. WHO confirmed that those exposed to second hand smoke are one and half to two times more likely to start smoking than those who are not exposed.
(5) WHO also confirmed that more than 94% of people are unprotected by smoke-free laws. Although in 2008 the number of people protected from second-hand smoke by such laws increased by 74% to 362 million from 208 million in 2007. Of the 100 most populous cities, 22 are smoke-free.
(6) WHO sources said that ten per cent of the economic costs related to tobacco use are attributable to second-hand smoke. Tobacco use imposes both direct economic costs on society, such as those associated with treating tobacco-related diseases and indirect costs, such as those associated with reduced productivity or lost wages because of death or illness.
The way out:
From WHO, it is confirmed that Second-hand smoke causes 600 000 premature deaths per year and that about 40% of all children are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke at home. Thirty-one per cent of the deaths attributable to second-hand smoke occur in children. Considering all these lose, there is the need to quickly seek for solutions before it’s too late.
Many experts believe that occasional exposure to second hand smoke will reduce the risk of diseases associated with passive smoking and on this note, many countries now ban smoking in public places. Going by the implications and hazards of second hand smoke, the above suggestion would not be the best recommendation. We should looking forward to a world without TOBACCO.
By Godwill Agomoh Paul.
Tobacco free initiative (TFI) http://www.who.int/tobacco/mpower/2009/en/index.html
Ten Facts on Second Hand Smoke http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/tobacco/en/index.html
The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/secondhandsmoke/report/
Second Hand Smoke http://www.cancer.org/docroot/PED/content/PED_10_2X_Secondhand_Smoke-Clean_Indoor_Air.asp
Second Hand Smoke http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/secondhandsmoke.html http://www.epa.gov/smokefree/healtheffects.html
Secondhand Smoke Starts Damaging
Arteries in Childhood http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_95908.html
Passive Smoking http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_smoking
GUIDELINES ON PROTECTION FROM EXPOSURE TO TOBACCO SMOKE http://www.who.int/fctc/cop/art%208%20guidelines_english.pdf
Second Hand Smoke http://kidshealth.org/teen/food_fitness/sports/secondhand_smoke.html
Smoking and Tobacco Use: Second Hand Smoke http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/secondhand_smoke/
Preventing Smoking and Exposure to Secondhand Smoke Before, During, and After Pregnancy
Smoke Free Homes and Cars Program http://www.epa.gov/smokefree/index.html
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION INTERNATIONAL AGENCY FOR RESEARCH ON CANCER IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans
Volume 83 Tobacco Smoke and Involuntary Smoking
Summary of Data Reported and Evaluation http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol83/volume83.pdf
Q&A: Passive smoking http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3235820.stm
Passive Smoking http://www.healthinsite.gov.au/topics/Passive_Smoking