Second Hand Smoke – A Glimpse

It has been a given and accepted fact that smoking is dangerous to the health. Thus, many groups have been actively participating in different forums and media events to stop smoking. However, aside from the detrimental effects of smoking to the smokers, the smoke generated by the burning cigarettes has unfavorable health effects to others as well.

When a person lights his cigarette and begins smoking, about 50 percent of the generated smoke is being inhaled and exhaled by the smoker. The remaining 50 percent is left in the air where other people might inhale. This smoke is called second hand smoke (SHS) or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). The process of inhaling the second hand smoke is called passive smoking.

A second hand smoke is very toxic since it contains a mixture of more than 4000 chemicals consisting of poisons and carcinogens such as arsenic, benzene, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, nickel, vinyl chloride and more. The factors that affect which chemicals maybe found on second hand smoke are the type of tobacco used, the chemicals used in tobacco, the methods of producing the product, and the paper in which the tobacco has been wrapped.

Inhaling second hand smoke has been associated with many health diseases according to experts. There are even findings that a smoker and a non-smoker that has been continuously exposed to second hand smoke may experience the same illnesses.

For that reason, non-smokers should really avoid areas where there are a number of people smoking in public. It also makes perfect sense for smokers to go outdoors when at home to smoke. This will keep the home environment free of the toxins contained in the smoke and thus, the air will be cleaner and purer.

Long term effects of second hand smoke on the human body includes cancer, such as lung cancer, breast cancer, renal cell carcinoma, and brain tumor, ear, nose and throat infections, heart diseases, lung problems, such as asthma, cognitive impairment and dementia, sudden infant death syndrome, bronchiolitis and more.

These findings are supported by many health associations in the United States including the United States National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control, United States Surgeon General, United States National Cancer Institute, United States Environmental Protection Agency, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Medical Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics.

It’s also supported abroad by such associations as the United Kingdom Scientific Committee in Tobacco and Health, Australian National Health and Medical Research and the governments of 168 countries who have signed the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco and Control that states “Parties recognize that scientific evidence has unequivocally established that exposure to tobacco smoke causes death, disease and disability."

Although there are already scientific studies that relate second hand smoking to several diseases there are still a few organizations and researchers who want to disclaim these findings.

However, according to a survey conducted by the United States National Cancer Institute and Centers for Disease and Control, it has been shown that the majority of the public does believe that second hand smoke is harmful and most people prefer tighter restrictions on where smoking is allowed.

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