Since last two decades, there has been a growing number of evidence regarding the harmful effects of smoking on non-smokers. This shows that passive smoking or second-hand smoking is an absolute health hazard and can be detrimental for public health.

Second-hand smoke is a combination of the smoke exhaled by a smoker and the smoke that comes out from the burning tip of a cigarette or cigar. This smoke when inhaled by a non-smoker is known as passive smoking. We all know the bad effects of passive smoking; however, the extent and intensity of damage it cancause is much more.

Passive smoking is a need to worry about

  1. Non-smokers who are exposed to this second-hand smoke increase their risk of lung cancer.
  2. If someone you live with constantly smokes and you are exposed to tobacco smoke, you increase your risk of lung cancer by 20% to 30%.
  3. Second-hand smoking can lead to premature death in non-smokers.
  4. Passive smoke contains about approximately 4000 chemicals of which 69are known to cause cancer.
  5. Passive smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease

Children and passive smoking

Passive smoking is very harmful for children and it puts them at a high risk for many diseases.Children who are exposed to second-hand smoke are at an increased risk for:

  1. Cot death or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  2. Developing asthma
  3. Respiratory and breathing illness such as pneumonia and bronchitis
  4. Recurrent colds and coughs
  5. Middle-ear infections.

In fact, children who grow up with either of their parents smoking are three times more prone to start smoking as well. Besides, individuals exposed to passives moke show a tendency to show either of these symptoms such as irritation of eyes, nose, throat, cough, dizziness, chest pain or shortness of breath.

Studies have shown that second-hand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death after smoking and alcohol abuse. This has led to ban of smoking in public places for safety of public health and promotion of a healthy environment. Environmental tobacco smoke ranks high as a source of indoor air pollution.

Furthermore, studies have also suggested that passive smoke contains more number of chemicals than present in active smoking. As the size of particles in passive smoke is much smaller, so they can easily float in the air, which, in turn, is detrimental to the lungs. Usually, a smoker takes in only 15% of tobacco smoke and the remaining is exhaled out into the surroundings. This means, a passive smoker if present in a smoky room for two hours would be equivalent to have smoked four cigarettes.

Thus, even though active smoking is much harmful than passive smoking, second-hand smoke also contains numerous harmful chemicals and carcinogens.

If you are exposed to second-hand smoke, here are certain steps you can take to avoid exposure:

  1. Ask your guests to smoke outside the house.
  2. When you with children, visit non-smoking places.
  3. Sit away from smoking areas in public places.
  4. Educate others about ill effects of passive smoking.