While facts about smoking are conventional and well accepted, the facts about smoking passively or second hand smoking are a little less common. Second hand smoking risks are, in many ways, as numerous as those associated with active smoking. However, potential second hand smoking causes as many health implications as smoking itself.
What is Second Hand Smoking?
Second hand smoking essentially refers to the inhalation of smoke from tobacco products, either from the burning end of that tobacco product or from the smoke exhaled by the smoker themselves (National Heart Foundation of Australia). Second hand smoking can, in this sense, present as much risk to the non-smoker as smoking itself does to the smoker.
While the real facts about smoking and its health consequences began to emerge decades ago, it is only in recent years that the true facts about smoking passively have come to light. One fact is becoming increasingly clear, however: passive smoking presents a significant health risk.
Facts About Smoking Passively and Passive Smoking Risks
The Australian Department of Health and Aging (ND) present a significant body of information about second hand smoking, including passive smoking risks and associated morbidity. They estimate that the child of a smoker can inhale as much nicotine in a year through passive smoking as they would if they had actively smoked between 60 and 150 cigarettes.
Other passive smoking risks outlined by the Australian Department of Health and Aging include the fact that in 1998, 128 Australians died from the related effects of passive smoking and more than 1900 Australians were hospitalized (Australian Department of Health and Aging ND).
Second hand smoking is not isolated to any particular place and can affect people almost anywhere. Having said this, exposure to passive smoking in confined spaces such as in the home and car can increase the risks.
Second Hand Smoking Risks
Passive smoking causes or contributes to ill-health in many subjected people. This is evident, however, what are the specific passive smoking risks?
Cigarette smoke, or indeed the smoke from any burning tobacco product, contains over 4000 different chemicals (National Cancer Institute). Some of these 4000 chemicals that cigarette smoke adds to the air include arsenic and the material used in production of plastics, and vinyl chloride. Whether primary or passive smoking, these chemicals are inhaled, adding to passive smoking risks.
Is second hand smoking dangerous? Yes. What’s more , All levels of second hand smoke present dangers; there is no safe level of second hand smoking. Passive smoking causes an increased likelihood of the following health issues (Canadian Cancer Society ):
- increased risks of throat and lung cancers
- increased risks of heart disease
- increased wheezing, coughing, eye and throat irritation
Second Hand Smoking and Those at Most Risk
While second hand smoking is a concern for people of all ages and situations, there are those who are at greater risk of being impacted by passive smoking. Those who are most at risk of health implications as a result of second hand smoking include the elderly, those already susceptible to respiratory illness and children.
The impact of second hand smoking is most relevant for children. In children, passive smoking causes an increased likelihood of the following health complications (Quit Victoria):
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
- middle ear infections
- bronchitis and pneumonia
While the importance of facts about passive smoking cannot be understated, for those who are still active tobacco smokers, stopping smoking needs to be the first consideration. Addressing and avoiding passive smoking will, logically, do little to assist the health of an active smoker.
Quit smoking path is not an easy journey. Trying to stop smoking requires commitment, willpower and a solid plan of attack. There are many ways to approach trying to stop smoking and there is a plethora of online and offline information on how to stop smoking.