Passive Smoking: What Are the Dangers?

Do you have friends who smoke? If so, they could be killing you. Passive smoking also referred to as secondhand smoke (SHS) or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), is something you should take seriously if you spend time in a smoking environment.

These days there are laws that ban smoking in restaurants and other public places in many countries. This has dramatically reduced the exposure of non-smokers to dangerous secondhand smoke.

Even if you enter a room where no smoke is visibly present, if people have been smoking there on a consistent basis, you are exposed to the chemicals in the smoke which has permeated the furniture, drapery, flooring, carpet, and physical environment in that room.

Aside from possibly giving you a headache and making your clothes smell bad, the smoke from passive smoking can do just as much damage to you as to the “active” or intended smoker. Even infrequent exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke can contribute to disease and disability, and even death.

Can You Get Nicotine From Second-Hand Smoke?

One of the most harmful components of smoking tobacco is nicotine. Obviously, the greatest risk for exposure is if you are actively smoking a cigarette, a cigar, or a pipe. In truth, a non-smoker exposed to the environment of someone smoking receives as little as 1% of the nicotine from tobacco smoke as the smoker himself.

However, there are plenty of other chemical nasties in tobacco smoke that do a lot of damage to passive smokers, over 7,000 chemicals to be exact. Regular exposure to passive smoke increases your risk of lung cancer, even if you have never smoked a cigarette or another tobacco product in your life.

Your risk of developing coronary heart disease is raised, which means a heart attack, stroke or heart failure could be the price you pay for spending too much time in a smoking environment.

You may have heard that the tobacco industry has worked very hard, illegally and immorally in many cases, to conceal and lie about the dangers of smoking for decades. They fought to keep health hazard warnings from being placed on cigarette packs.

With literally tens of millions of people around the world developing cancer and dying from the act of smoking, Big Tobacco continues intentionally lying and misleading about the potential hazards of not only smoking but secondhand smoke as well.

Passive Smoking Damages the Organs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States reminds us that “smoking leads to disease and disability and harms nearly every organ of the body.” This is true for non-smokers who passively ingest secondhand smoke regularly, not just smokers themselves.

As the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, secondhand smoke exposure kills roughly 41,000 non-smoking people each year … and that is just in the United States. The World Health Organization agrees with the CDC that “… there is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure; even brief exposure can be harmful to health.”

In children, exposure to passive smoke, usually from selfish parents that won’t give up smoking for their own health and that of their children, can cause ear infections, severe asthma, and respiratory complaints.

If passive smoking isn’t that bad, which is what a lot of uneducated smokers will tell you, then why have approximately 2.5 million non-smokers died from health problems caused by secondhand smoke exposure since 1964? As with the earlier statistic, that figure comes from just the United States.

The National Health Services (NHS) in the United Kingdom tells us secondhand smoke raises your risk of multiple mild and serious heart problems and significantly increases your risk of developing cancer. This is because of the thousands of chemicals contained in passive smoke, most of which are harmful and toxic.

If you have children, don’t smoke around them. Smoke can stay in the air for up to 2.5 hours, even with the window open. Carpeting, clothes and furniture, ceilings, and walls all suck up tobacco smoke hungrily.

If there is no better reason for you to stop smoking, consider the damage you’re doing to absolute strangers, your children, friends, and family members, and ultimately, to your own existence.

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