What Is Second-Hand Smoke

Second-hand smoke can certainly harm your family. Already inhaled by the smoker, second-hand smoke likely does more harm to the smoker who takes it into his or her lungs than to those around. However, second-hand smoke is still harmful (some sources even say it’s more harmful than “first hand” smoke), and it harms more people from one cigarette.

Second-hand smoke is something like multiplying the harmful effects of tobacco smoke. In other words, instead of one smoker ruining his or her health, a whole room full of people can be affected. The reverse is also true – one non-smoker might be exposed to the cigarettes of dozens of smokers in one room. It’s almost like smoking that many cigarettes at once!

Also, second-hand smoke is not just smoke that’s exhaled by the smoker. When the smoker is holding his or her cigarette or sets it down in an ashtray, the smokes drifts up and disseminates throughout the room.

What Does It Do?

What exactly are the dangers of second-hand smoke? For one thing, second-hand smoke contains hundreds (some say thousands) of chemicals, some of which are known to cause cancer. It also contains carbon monoxide, which is so dangerous that you can buy carbon monoxide detectors for your home.

Children who are raised in a home where one or more family member smokes are much more likely to develop asthma or other respiratory problems, sources say. Children of smokers may seem to be “always sick” with colds, ear infections, lung infections, and various respiratory conditions. Even the incidence of SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, is greater in homes where tobacco smoke is present.

Here’s another way that second-hand smoke can harm your family that you may not have thought of: children in families where one or both parents smoke are twice as likely to become smokers themselves.

If You’re a Smoker…

You might be concerned about your family’s health if you smoke, and, according to the information available on second-hand smoke, you should be concerned. First of all, quitting is essential. But you may have to do so gradually, and in the meantime, here are some tips for minimizing your family’s exposure while you’re quitting.

* Don’t smoke in the house.
* Don’t smoke in the car.
* Designate an area outside your home where you can smoke your increasingly-fewer cigarettes.
* Elicit your family’s help in quitting. Let them know you’re doing it for them, too.