Passive Smoking or Second-Hand Smoking is the inhalation of smoke by the person other than the ÔÇÿintendedÔÇÖ active smoker. It happens when a smoke permeates the environment causing its inhalation by persons within that environment. ThatÔÇÖs how Wikipedia puts it across.
Cigarettes are smoked by nearly 20% of the world population and percentage is expected to be higher in developing countries. In Kashmir, particularly, 26.6% of the population uses some kind of Tobacco product as per news report carried by Greater Kashmir.
It indicates that for every four people, thereÔÇÖs at least one smoker. This, in turn, signifies that there is 100% chance of you having gone through the passive smoking at least once in your life. And you might be facing it on a daily basis too. Passive smoking is so harmful that it forced regulatory authorities across the globe to implement strict regulations around the use of Tobacco products for the safety of bystanders.
So the question is why passive smoking is so harmful? LetÔÇÖs dive right into the science of this and find the answers.
Second-hand smoke is a mixture of two forms of smoke:
- Mainstream Smoke ÔÇô This is the smoke exhaled by a smoker.
- Sidestream Smoke ÔÇô Smoke from the lighted end of the cigarette, pipe, or tobacco burning in the hookah.
Sidestream smoke has a higher concentration of cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) and it is more toxic than mainstream smoke. Due to the smaller size, the particles comprising Sidestream smoke enter the lungs and bodyÔÇÖs cells more easily. Pretty dangerous! Right?
Passive smokers breathe in nicotine and toxic chemicals in exactly the same way as a normal smoker does.
Now you might want to ask whether passive smoking carries the same health effects as normal smoking does and the answer is no! In fact, passive smoking has much more profound dangerous effects than normal smoking! LetÔÇÖs talk about some.
Smoking causes cancer and so does the passive smoking. It increases the risk of heart disease like stroke, it can cause asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cognitive impairment and dementia, increased risk of periodontitis, increased risk of death and many more deadly diseases.
Quit smoking for your loved ones
Smoking is harmful to you and you know this, but your act of smoking is leaving your loved ones ÔÇô children, family members ÔÇô susceptible to the dangerous diseases. The effects of passive smoking on your children are:
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
- Learning difficulties, developmental delays, and neurobehavioral effects.
- Increased risk of middle ear infections.
- Sleep-disordered breathing.
- Dramatic effects on the cardiovascular system and many more.
LetÔÇÖs briefly digress from the topic and talk about the controversy which happened around the effects of second-hand smoking. In the past, there has been an attempt by the tobacco industries to fund a number of scientific studies where results cast doubt on the actual effects of passive smoking. The aim was to generate a perception among masses that belittled the effects of second-hand smoking. However, some journals such as new scientist brought this plan to the surface and the results from those funded studies were proven to be wrong.
People often ask whatÔÇÖs the maximum level of exposure we can maintain to stay safe and the answer is none! There is no safe level of exposure! You have to stay as far from the smoker as possible and ensure that even a minute volume of smoke doesnÔÇÖt reach you.
Now you know that you are a passive smoker, what can you do about it?
You have to do one simple thing. Ask the person not to smoke in front of you. Make your workplace, building and home smoking free. If any of your family members is a smoker then ask him to smoke away from everyone preferably outside the house. And advise smokers to quit smoking.
What about the smell that remains after smoke is gone?
That odour is due to the smoke particles settled onto the surfaces and in the dust. Some researchers call it Third-hand smoke and thereÔÇÖs little research that proves it is dangerous. However, its effects are very small as compared to passive smoking.
Third-hand smoke is an area of active research.
As per the World Health Organisation, 93% of the population still live in countries not covered by 100% smoke-free public health regulations.
Passive smoking causes almost 600,000 deaths per year!
A final note to a smoker: Your habit of smoking is ruining the lives of people who love you ÔÇô your family, friends, relatives, colleagues, and associates. You have taken your health and the health of people around you for granted. But it is time to act. Time to quit. Remember quitting is not an event, it is a process ÔÇô a gradual one. You canÔÇÖt quit it in one go and we understand that. But you can cut down on a number of cigarettes each day, week and month. Do what you can and start now.