Secondhand smoke: what you need to knowDenise FranerRN, Tobacco Treatment Specialist
Second hand smoke (second hand smoke) is also known as environmental tobacco smoke. It’s a mix of 2 forms of smoke that come from burning tobacco:
When non-smokers breathe in secondhand smoke it is known as passive smoking or involuntary smoking. Second hand smoke contains all the harmful chemicals that smokers inhale and there is no safe level of exposure. Separating smokers from non-smokers, opening windows or using air filters doesn’t prevent people from breathing second hand smoke. Some of the chemicals found in tobacco smoke include:
Many people are aware of the dangers of tobacco smoke for the smoker but often do not know of the danger for the non-smokers. Non-smokers who breathe in secondhand smoke are at increased risk of heart disease and lung cancer. Secondhand smoke can cause other damage to the body. Breathing secondhand smoke makes the platelets in the blood stickier which can lead to heart disease and stroke as well as damage to other internal organs. The secondhand smoke damages the lining of the blood vessels. Secondhand smoke can cause lung cancer in non-smokers and can increase your chances of getting lung cancer by 20-30 percent. That smoke can also affect how your lungs work, increasing existing breathing problems. Some of the cancers caused by secondhand smoke even for non-smokers include: brain, bladder, stomach, breast, rectal, laryngeal, and pharyngeal. In children, secondhand smoke may possibly be linked to lymphoma, liver cancer, leukemia and brain tumors. Young children who breathe secondhand smoke get sick more often, have more ear infections, and are at increased risk for lung and breathing problems. Infants exposed to second hand smoke have an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Particles from secondhand smoke can settle on surfaces (curtains, upholstery, furniture, walls etc.) and remain long after the smoke is gone, perhaps even for months. Even though these particles are no longer in the form of smoke, researchers often refer to this as third-hand smoke. Particles that settle out of the air can combine with gasses in the air to form cancer-causing compounds that settle onto surfaces. These compounds have been found in dust samples taken from the homes of smokers. Research has also shown that that third-hand smoke can damage human DNA and affect blood clotting in lab animals.
Most non-smokers are exposed to secondhand smoke at work, in public places, at home and in the car (even when the windows are open). Ohio passed the Smoke-Free Workplace Act in 2006 to protect Ohioans from the dangers of secondhand smoke in workplaces and public places.
What can you do to protect yourself and your loved ones from second hand smoke?• Never let anyone smoke in your home or car.• Don’t let anyone smoke around your child.• Teach older children to stay away from secondhand smoke.• Report violations of the Ohio Smoke-Free Workplace Act to your local health department.
For more information on the Ohio Smoke-Free Workplace Act, click here.
Ohio Smoke-Free Workplace Act
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