The dangers of secondhand smoke
Tobacco smoke contains about 4,000 chemicals, including 200 known poisons such as DDT and carbon monoxide. Every time someone smokes, these poisons are released into the air. Studies show that this secondhand smoke can have harmful effects on nonsmokers and even cause them to develop diseases such as lung cancer.
Secondhand smoke has an especially bad effect on infants and children. A number of studies show that in the first two years of life, babies of parents who smoke at home have a much higher rate of lung diseases, such as bronchitis and pneumonia, than babies with nonsmoking parents. A study involving children ages 5 to 9 showed impaired lung function in youngsters who had smoking parents compared to those whose parents were nonsmokers.
Being able to breathe clean air free from harmful tobacco smoke is a serious issue for everyone. At home, at work, and in public places, it is important to know how dangerous smoking can be to smokers and nonsmokers alike.
What you can do to help:
- Let family, friends, co-workers and others know that you mind if they smoke.
- Put no smoking stickers, buttons and signs in your home, car or office. Ask to be seated in nonsmoking sections when you travel or dine out.
- Don't rely on air filters and so-called smoke-less ashtrays. They won't filter out the toxins in smoke.
- Suggest that your employer start a bonus system for people who quit smoking. Set up a "stop smoking" class.
More than 40 million Americans have kicked the cigarette habit. Millions more are trying. In fact, only about one out of three people in this country still smokes.