Smoking does not only affect smokers. Family members and other people spending time in the same environment as smokers may be negatively impacted by smoking – even if they don’t smoke themselves. Quitting smoking is thus positive for both you and others. Your family and friends also benefit from you quitting.
All about passive smoking
What is passive smoking?
Passive smoking is when you don’t smoke yourself, but when you are exposed to smoke from other people in your environment. You are thus affected by the damaging aspects caused by smoking.
To be exposed to passive smoking - or second-hand smoke, as it is sometimes referred to – for extended periods of time, is as serious a health threat as traditional smoking. Passive smoking causes approximately 7,300 deaths from lung cancer and 34,000 deaths from heart disease each year in America.
What impact does passive smoking have on my health?
To breathe in second-hand tobacco smoke is largely the same as smoking yourself. A person exposed to passive smoking thus risks breathing in as many harmful substances and toxins as the actual smoker themselves. For anyone sensitive to smoke, passive smoking can also cause discomfort and respiratory issues. In addition, cigarette smoke smells bad. The odour contaminates a non-smoker’s clothes and hair as easily as that of smokers.
Common symptoms and problems from passive smoking include:
- eye irritation
- airway irritation
- shortness of breath
What happens to the body when one smokes? We have listed side effects from smoking here.
The amount of smoke, and the duration of passive smoking exposure, is obviously directly linked to the severity of the negative health outcomes one risks suffering from:
- Long-term exposure to tobacco smoke may increase the risk of lung cancer by 20 percent.
- The risk of heart attack increases by 30 percent.
- For people with heart disease, passive smoking may increase the risk of chest pain (angina).
- Passive smoking may set off asthma and allergy episodes, and also increase the risk of chronic respiratory symptoms.
Are you a smoker, but wish to minimise the health risks to your friends and family? Remember to:
- Always smoke a fair distance away from others, particularly children.
- Change clothes after having smoked – contaminated fabrics carry toxic substances from tobacco smoke for a long time.
- Try to swap the cigarettes for a smoke-free nicotine replacement product, such as stop smoking tablets, nicotine pouches or nicotine spray. These products help your fight the urge to smoke, and they have no negative impact on others.
Passive smoking and children
Children and tobacco make a very bad combination, and small children are particularly sensitive to passive smoking. Children growing up in an environment with tobacco smoke suffer more frequently from airway and ear infections than children growing up in a smoke-free home. This is because their lungs have been negatively affected, with mucous membranes and airways more susceptible to infections.
Are you a new parent? Be aware that passive smoking increases the risk of SIDS – sudden infant death syndrome. Keeping the home free from tobacco smoke is the safest and healthiest option. 🚭
A parent who quits smoking contributes greatly, not only to their personal health, but also to that of their children and partner. The family are much more likely to stay healthy, and they potentially also get to spend more time together.
Passive smoking during pregnancy and breastfeeding
Pregnant women are recommended to stay away from smoky environments as much as possible. Smoke inhaled by the mother affects the foetus severely. For example, the baby is more likely to suffer from allergies or asthma.
Unfortunately, there are many more risks. A study shows that passive smoking during a pregnancy may lead to significantly impaired motor skills and attention levels in the baby. A child, whose mother has been exposed to passive smoking during the pregnancy, is more prone to become a smoker themselves during their teens.
How does passive smoking impact my dog or other pets?
Not only people’s health is at risk when it comes to passive smoking. Our four-legged friends suffer as well if anyone in the family smokes. A study from the University of Glasgow shows that the risk of a pet getting cancer is elevated in households where people smoke.
Cats are at particular risk 😿. Smoke easily gets caught in the cat’s fur and researchers believe cats digest large amounts of harmful substances when they clean themselves (by licking).
Don’t forget that our pets have very sensitive noses. Many people find tobacco odour disgusting. It’s reasonable to believe that dogs, with their strong sense of smell, are suffering even more than we are.