Long-Term Effects of Second-Hand Smoke

Second-hand smoke is a mixture of the smoke which curls up from the burning end of a cigarette as well as that which is blown out into the air by the person smoking; as most of us are aware of at this point, second-hand smoke has the same negative health effects as for the one doing the smoking. Cigarette smoke has over 4000 chemicals and is poisonous, but unfortunately, second-hand smoke may actually be more dangerous than actually inhaling the smoke. Research has shown that the second-hand smoke routinely inhaled by those who live with smokers contains twice as much nicotine and tar, and five times more carbon monoxide than the people doing the smoking receive. If you are wondering what types of chemicals are found in second-hand smoke, here are just a few of the more serious ones:

· Formaldehyde, which is used to preserve dead animals

· Hydrogen cyanide, which is used primarily in rat poison

· Ammonia, used routinely to clean floors and toilets

· Benzoapyrene, which is found in coal tar, and well-known as one of the most potent, cancer-causing chemicals around.

How Dangerous is Second-hand Smoke?

Experts consider there to be NO safe level of second-hand smoke; those who live with someone who smokes are routinely exposed to harmful chemicals which give them a thirty percent increased risk of developing lung cancer and heart disease, and will also have greater incidences of breathing problems, coughing, wheezing, pneumonia, bronchitis and asthma. Some people, most especially children, who are routinely exposed to second-hand smoke can suffer from serious, even life-threatening health problems. Even as little as eight to twenty minutes of second-hand smoke exposure can cause physical reactions, many of which have been linked to heart disease and stroke. At the very minimum, this level of exposure makes your heart work much harder just to do its regular job.

Effects of Second-hand Smoke on Children

Infants and children who are exposed to second-hand smoke are at a greatly increased risk of getting sick-after all, their lungs are still in the developing stage, making them much more fragile and easily damaged. Because infants breathe faster than adults, they will inhale more smoke. Even more tragic is that those infants who breathe second-hand smoke have a much higher likelihood of dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome-almost three times as many infants die from second-hand smoke related SIDS as from child abuse or homicide. Aside from the damaging health effects that second-hand smoke can have on infants and children, studies show that children who are exposed to second-hand smoke consistently score lower on tests in reading, math, logic and reasoning skills. Children who live in households where there is a smoker will also suffer many more chronic middle ear infections than children who live in smoke-free homes. Pregnant women who are exposed to second-hand cigarette smoke are providing the same level of carcinogens to their unborn baby as if they were smoking themselves. Children who live in smoking households can suffer long-term and long-range negative health effects because of second-hand smoking.

Stop Smoking

If these facts were not enough to convince you to stop smoking for your health and the health of those around you, consider that environmental tobacco smoke has been shown to produce more particulate-matter pollution than an idling, low-emission diesel engine. Presuming you have seen the black smoke which seethes from an idling diesel engine, this should help you to realize just how bad second-hand smoke really is. Any way you look at it, cigarette smoke is bad-both for those who actually do it, and for those innocent people who are exposed to it. If you smoke-quit. If you live with a smoker, take all the precautions humanly possible to minimize your exposure such as asking the smoker to smoke outside, increasing the ventilation in hour home by opening windows or using exhaust fans, or using a smoker's air cleaner with HEPA particle filtration. There is no safe exposure level to cigarette smoke except for zero.