Just saying no to Glamour cigarettes may not be enough when it comes to avoiding the health complications associated with smoking. In fact, according to a global study led by the World Health Organization, around 600,000 lives are claimed each year as a result of passive smoking.
Unbeknownst to some, exposure to passive smoke, also referred as secondhand smoke, can put the lives of non-smokers in jeopardy.
“Not many people are aware of the dangers. They think it’s pretty safe but it is just as bad as smoking,” Dr. Srinivas
Vodnala, a lung specialist at North Cypress Medical Center Hospital, said. “The re-inhaled chemicals have a high level of toxins like benzene, carbon monoxide, cyanide and lead.”
One of the major concerns regarding passive smoking is the extent to which bystanders, who’ve chosen not to smoke, are still subjected to the toxic materials.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to secondhand smoke results in nearly 3,000 deaths associated with lung cancer in non-smokers annually.
Furthermore, the American Cancer Society reports that 46,000 non-smokers, who are residing with smokers, die each year from heart disease.
“At least with primary smoking you’re able to track how much you’ve smoked,” Dr. Timothy Iannone, a family medical physician with the Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital, said. “But it’s harder for a nonsmoker to know because you could be exposed to a great amount of smoke and not be aware.”
Repeated exposure to smoke in contained spaces can lead to diseases that prove to be fatal.
Therefore, those who are around smoke on a daily basis, rather an employee of a business where smoking is permitted or the spouse of a smoker, are in danger of inhaling the toxins.
However, children with parents who smoke are viewed by many as having the most to lose when it comes to their health.
The 2006 U.S. Surgeon General’s report states that passive smoking puts kids “at an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), acute respiratory infections, ear problems, and more severe asthma.”
“Second hand smoking affects children. It can cause breathing problems, sinus problems or respiratory infections,” Vodnala said. “But down the road it can get worse and cause cancer.”
Smoking outdoors may seem like the answer for parents who want to engage in the tobacco products but also ensure the wellbeing of their offspring. But some believe that more precautions need to be taken.
“Smoke lingers on clothing,” Iannone said. “So if parents are smoking then they need keep a separate jacket that they wear outside.”
Although secondhand smoke is not in the exact same format as primary smoke, research has shown that it still contains up to 4,000 substances which may pose a threat to your health.
“For sure secondhand smoke causes cancer,” Vodnala said. “There’s no question about it. About 50-60 of the chemical compounds are carcinogens.”
As deaths related to passive smoking continue to rise, many residents are wondering if a solution will ever be in sight.
Some believe that half of the battle is getting smokers to realize that their choice threatens the lives of those around them.
“It takes self awareness and the person wanting to reduce that burden on others,” Iannone said. “That’s the hardest part.”