Since the Surgeon General’s Report released in 1964, 2.5 million adults who were not smokers themselves have died from secondhand smoke.
Secondhand smoke is classified as a combination of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette and the smoke breathed out from a smoker. As we close out National Non-Smoking Week, we wanted to look more closely at the facts of secondhand smoking.
Why is secondhand smoke so harmful?
A non-smoker who is in the same room as a smoker is exposed to the same harmful chemicals from the cigarette. This includes more than 7000 chemicals, 70 of which can cause cancer. Exposure to secondhand smoke has been shown to have a negative effect on the heart and blood vessels and increase the risk of a heart attack and stroke. Even brief exposure to smoke can cause damage to the lining of blood vessels; increasing the chance of a heart attack.
In the case of young children, studies have shown that children whose parents smoke get sick more often, have more lung infections, get more ear infections and are more likely to cough, sneeze and have a shortness of breath. Secondhand smoke exposure can also trigger asthma attacks in kids who previously showed no asthma symptoms.
What can be done to prevent secondhand smoke?
It is important to note that there is no safe level of exposure to smoke. Any exposure is harmful and will have a lasting negative impact. However, there are ways to limit exposure in order to protect you and your loved ones from secondhand smoke:
- Keep your home and car smoke-free
- Stay in smoke-free hotels when travelling
- Do not smoke when pregnant or around children
- Ask your family, friends and caregivers to not smoke around your children
Want to know more about the benefits of quitting smoking?
Visit Fast Facts and Fact Sheets for more information about nicotine dependence and the health benefits of quitting smoking.
What resources are available to help people become non-smokers?
There are a number of counselling services and support groups available if you want to quit smoking. Click here for a list of support services to help you make your life smoke-free.
Every day is a new day that can be smoke-free.