SECONDHAND SMOKE: Secondhand smoke can come from either sidestream smoke or mainstream smoke. Sidestream smoke comes from the lighted end of a cigarette, cigar, or pipe and is worse for people’s health because the concentration of carcinogens is higher than in mainstream smoke and the small particles allow the smoke to enter the body easily. Mainstream smoke is what is exhaled by someone who is smoking. Both forms of secondhand smoke can be detrimental to non-smokers health because nicotine and toxic chemicals are being inhaled. Over 250 of the 7,000 chemical compounds in tobacco smoke are known to be harmful and 69 of those chemicals are known to cause cancer. Non-smokers can be exposed to secondhand smoke in public places such as the street or a bar, at work, or at home. Unfortunately children are more often exposed to secondhand smoke than adults, probably due to parents or guardians who smoke at home or in the car with their kids.
CONSEQUENCES: Secondhand smoke has been linked to several health problems and is known to exacerbate other conditions as well. Here are some consequences of secondhand smoke exposure:
- Lung cancer
- Increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome, ear infections and more severe and frequent asthma attacks in babies and children.
- Immediate harmful effects to the heart, blood vessels, and blood circulation which can eventually lead to strokes, heart disease, and heart attacks. (Source: www.cancer.org)
SMOKE-FREE POLICIES: Smoke-free policies aimed at creating smoke-free environments at restaurants, work sites, and bars have become increasingly popular in the past two decades. The motivations behind state smoke-free laws were better air quality indoors, to protect non-smokers from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, to help smokers quit, and to change social norms about smoking. Although only 26 states currently have comprehensive smoke-free laws in affect, other states such as many of the southern states have communities which do have local smoke-free laws. There continues to be a push to make all 50 states in the United States enact smoke-free laws in the future. (www.cdc.gov)