Ultimate Guide to Second Hand Smoke

What is Second Hand Smoke? -Secondhand Smoke Definition

What is Second hand Smoking? What is the definition of second hand smoke? Secondhand smoke is also called environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), involuntary or passive smoking. Though many names it has, secondhand smoke (2nd hand smoke), by definition, is sidestream smoke which refers to the smoke coming from a burning cigarette directly, or mainstream smoke, mainly means the smoke exhaling from lungs of smokers. When a doctor talks about secondhand smoke, he usually refers to ambient or sidestream smoke. When a cigarette is lit up, nearly 80% of its smoke goes into the air, and remainder is inhaled by smokers. That’s to say, sidestream smoke is actually more harmful than mainstream smoke.

how bad is second hand smoke
Facts about Secondhand Smoke

Second Hand Smoke Facts

Want to know more about secondhand smoke facts?

There are no less than 200 proved harmful substances both in sidestream and mainstream smoke. However, Some compounds, like chemical carcinogens and ammonia concentrated in sidestream smoke are higher than that of mainstream. For example, benzene, the most dangerous chemicals often existed in gasoline has higher concentrations in sidestream smoke. But what is the main cause of such situation? As we all know, a smoker will draw oxygen from around air through the end of a lit cigarette when he or she is going to inhale. And this will increase the temperature, which in turn reduces the dangerous compounds, either on quantity and quality. Apart from cigarettes, smoking pipe and cigars contribute to secondhand smoke. Actually, comparing to cigarettes, a cigar releases more sidestream smoke. And that is because a cigar is larger in size. And recent researches have reported that hookahs also can produce massive 2nd hand smoke.

Second Hand Smoking Statistics

second hand smoking statistics
Second Hand Smoking Statistics

According to the statistics, there are about 45 million adults in America, and 21% of them smoke cigarettes. Secondhand smoke, also famous as environmental tobacco smoke, contains many particles and gases that come from cigarette, cigar and pipe tip. The toxic chemicals included in secondhand smoke is no less than 250, of which more than 50 can lead to cancers. Non-smoking adults can be attacked by many diseases that caused by secondhand smoke, such as heart disease, lung cancer. Many diseases in children, such as respiratory infections and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), are related with secondhand smoke.

In the United States, up to 126 million nonsmokers keep being exposed to secondhand smoke in many places, including inside their homes, vehicles or offices, even public occasions. And people in home and workplaces are more likely to have prolonged exposure to tobacco. And nearly 60% of children at 3 to 11 years old are exposed to secondhand smoke.

The Contents Produced by Secondhand Smoking – Second Hand Smoking Facts

second hand smoke facts
Substances of Secondhand Smoke

Just like other smoke, the smoke emitted by cigarettes not only has an unpleasant smell, but also irritates your throat and eyes. However, why is tobacco smoke with great harms? The cause is the contents secondhand smoking including. It’s almost impossible to ascertain all the exact contents of 2nd hand smoke due to its numerous varieties and changeable ways of smoking. But the influence of contents in secondhand smoke can be looked from four aspects: tobacco type, added chemicals in tobaccos, rolling paper of a cigarette, and the smoking ways. Although there are more than 4000 chemicals, now, have been confirmed in secondhand smoke, the number grows with every new studies. National Cancer Institute has released that there are over 50 kinds of carcinogens certified in second hand smoke, such as formaldehyde. Many substances contained in secondhand smoke obstruct the performance and development of normal cells by interfering them, like carbon monoxide and nicotine. Also, many other insoluble particles released by cigarette are inhaled by human body, but these substances can’t be depleted or discharged, they only calculate within human body. The Environmental Protection Agency, in 1993, had classified secondhand smoke into Croup A, which stands for the most serious form of carcinogens. The Group A also includes arsenic, asbestos and mustard gas. British Medical Journal has a report in august 2004 said that the air pollution caused by one single cigarette is about 10 times of a diesel engine. Many serious diseases are caused by secondhand smoking, such as heart disease, and various cancers and so on.

Why We Need to Avoid Second hand Smoking -Effects of Secondhand Smoke

Maybe someone would ask a question,”how bad is second hand smoke? How bad are the second hand smoke effects?”. To be short, it is bad, very bad. To give you the reason for “why we need to avoid second hand smoking”, Let us get to know the effects and dangers of secondhand smoke to our health.

secondhand smoke facts
Secondhand Smoke Facts. Please note: As the numbers are from different authoritative sources, so it is just a general statistics pic.

Heart Disease

Heart disease, in the United States, is the top one reason of death. Of course, heart disease can be caused by other different factors, like lack of doing sports or exercise, imbalanced diet and other risks, but secondhand smoke is a prominent one. Passive smoking, according to the American Lung Association, causes about 35,000 to 62,000 cardiovascular-related deaths yearly. What are worse, nonsmokers who experience long time exposure to the secondhand smoke have 25% higher risk of coronary heart disease than those who don’t. So, we have to admit that heart disease is one of second hand smoke effects. Though exposure to smoke speeds up the multiplication of red blood cells, it makes the blood thickened increasing the possibilities of strokes and clotting. If the oxygen which is going to enter the bloodstreams is increased, the heart has to increase the oxygen circulation; arteries walls will be damaged by the quickened blood platelet activity over time, which keeps blood pressure raised and increase the stress of heart.

Cancer – Does Secondhand Smoke Cause Cancer?

Among people aged below 85, cancers are the second significant reason of death. Following cancers have strong correlation with secondhand smoke.

Lung cancer

The national Cancer Institute says that there are about 3000 nonsmoker deaths of lung cancer because of exposure to the secondhand smoke. In fact, secondhand smoke, after active smoking and radon gas, comes as the third primary cause of lung cancer. Each year, the death of women caused by lung cancer is higher than that caused by breast cancer. While among men, lung cancer also lead to many premature deaths.

Nasal Sinus Cancer

Nasal sinus cancer is also a respiratory disease, just like lung cancer. The formaldehyde that is discovered in the secondhand smoke is considered to be the cause. Although it doesn’t have same prevalence as lung cancer, do not underestimate the effects of nasal sinus cancer. Nasal sinus cancer may affect some facial areas, such as nose.

Although there has no final conclusions that there have proven links between secondhand smoke and other cancers, many substances found in the secondhand smoke are believed causes of many cancers.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) – Second Hand Smoke While Pregnant

let’s come to effects of secondhand smoke on infants. The Pregnant women who experience prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke will pose their bodies at higher risk. For example, the babies may be at lower weight than normal ones after they were born. In addition, involuntary or passive smoking has been proved a cause of SIDS. According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 35% SIDS death are attributable to the secondhand smoke.

Asthma – One of Second Hand Smoke Symptoms

It’s definitely true a nonsmoker is going to suffer some frequent asthma attacks if he has a smoker roommate or his family has smokers. It is among symptoms of second hand smoke. As it’s known to all, cigarette or tobacco smoke is a major trigger of asthma. It’s inevitable to be caught by secondhand smoke constantly even though you have taken some measures to prevent secondhand smoke seeping into your room.

Other Respiratory Diseases

From broader vision, secondhand smoke concerns all the airways you breathing. Pneumonia, sinusitis, post-nasal drip and coughs are common illnesses led by poor quality air. And secondhand smoke in the air can only trigger and aggravate these discomforts. Sometimes, the ears can also be affected since it has a close relationship to sinuses. It’s very easy for the Eustachian tube to be infected when people are exposed to the secondhand smoke.

From all the horrible diseases, we can easily understand how necessary to avoid secondhand smoke. How harmful and dangerous is second hand smoke? I believe the answer is already very clear. Now, let’s come to find some solutions to prevent second hand smoking problem.

Second Hand Smoke and Children

Researches show that secondhand smoke has health-damaging effects on children. In many cases, children whose parents smoke are easy to get sick frequently. Lungs of these children grow less than those who don’t. And their ears can be infected easily if their parents often smoke around them. Secondhand smoke may cause fluid stuck in their ears constantly, which requires complex operations to drain it out of their ears. And bronchitis and pneumonia are likely to attack children who often exposed to secondhand smoke. Coughing and wheezing are also the common symptoms for children who often breathe secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke not only can trigger asthma attacks, but also make children who already have asthma into severe and more frequent attacks, of which a severe attack may cause death.


How to Avoid Secondhand Smoke?

Now lets come to share some tips for how to avoid secondhand smoke. Have you often been bothered by secondhand smoke seeping into your house when you are a dweller of apartment buildings. The secondhand smoke comes into your apartment through every possible access. You may resort to laws, but it doesn’t work immediately, every procedure will take some times before solving problems. Therefore, if you still want to live in this apartment, and refuse to experience moving hassles. Perhaps, you can take some proactive actions to prevent the air in your apartment from secondhand smoke.

1. Locate Accesses of Secondhand Smoke

It’s very important to find out how the secondhand smoke seeps into your apartment. There are many accessible points secondhand smoke could use. Windows, doors, balconies, outdoor patios are obvious openings for secondhand smoke. Inside your house, circulation vents, plumbing, insulation gaps, eaves, ceiling fixtures, electrical outlets and other places are all possible to introduce secondhand smoke.

2. Shoot All Possibilities

No second hand Smoking PLEASE!
No Smoking PLEASE!

Getting known about these accessible sources of secondhand smoke, you should inspect your residence completely, and then shoot them. Gaps — Seal all the gaps with proper fillers. Silicone caulks are better for smaller gaps, while insulating foam is suitable for larger ones. Generally, it’s more likely for gaps to appear at the rounded places of light fittings, air vents, plumbing pipes or electrical outlets. Vents — Seal all the vents you don’t use them anymore. You can either attach a board, definitely larger than openings, to the opening or just remove the diffuser. Windows – windows can be sealed with caulk and weather-stripping, which not only exclude secondhand smoke, but also improve energy efficiency. Also, try to install extractive fans on windows, which will take secondhand smoke out of your apartment and improve poor ventilation effectively, but require professional installation. Doors – it’s absolutely a good idea to get the doors which open to corridors or other outside places draft excluders. It not only protects entrances from secondhand smoke, but also blocks dust, insects, pollens and other substances. If your doors don’t have thresholds, install them, and attach weather-stripping.

3. Locate Exit Points, if Possible

If you fortunately have cooperative and reasonable neighbors, try to find an appropriate ways to make them locate exit points in their apartments. It goes the same way to deal with exits points in your house.

4. Rectification Actions

Apart from taking proactive steps to deal with secondhand smoke, you also need to seek some rectification. Inform the apartment administrators, or your landlords, or other responsible principals of your problems, and demand their actions to solve the spread of secondhand smoke within the building. Check your lease agreement, building residential regulations, local laws carefully to see whether there are some positive supports. If there are some clauses you can resort to, it would be better. It’s valid to request them to solve this problem or ask for some compensation. If there aren’t, write some advice to the law makers, let them know how important and urgent a law to protect residents’ rights of being free from secondhand smoke.

5. Tips and Warnings

1) If your neighbors are disoperative when you are going to pinpoint sources of secondhand smoke, you can notify your landlord or building management, and seek their help to solve the dispute. But you should make sure you hold enough evidences, either documental or visible.

2) Vents or draining outlets are more likely to draw secondhand smoke into your bathrooms, especially when you rightly have smoking residences living beneath your apartment, at that time, you may need professional competence to fix you plumbing to avoid the smoke.

3) Gaps fillers also will make the air circulation poor, which will cause stuffy indoor air or other health problems. So it’s better to seek advices from professional people before sealing gaps.

4) Any kind of sealing materials are available at hardware shops.

5) As some ventilation systems or other air appliances are not powerful enough to filter secondhand smoke, though they may remove the odor, secondhand smoke may be intensified by their operation, and lead to health-damaging problems.

6) If you are a renter, let your landlord know your problems and make sure your every change of this apartment is approved by the property owners.

Quick Check:

1. Is second hand smoke bad or dangerous? how bad or Harmful is second hand smoke? As we talked above in the second part of this post, you could find the information here. 2. How to avoid second hand smoke? How to prevent it? As we mentioned on the third part of this post, you could get there quickly here.

3. How many people die from secondhand smoke? Based on the research data of 2011 from CDC, In America, there are over 46,000 people who are no-smokers die of heart disease and 3,000 people die of lung cancer, which are caused by secondhand smoke exposure primarily.

4. Is second hand smoke worse than first hand? That depends. Depends on the time and intensity of smoke exposure. Generally speaking, the smokers inhale around 20% smoke (and harmful substances) to their lungs and others were released to the air around. But we could not say, secondhand smoke is risker than the first hand, as the quantity of harmful substances that nonsmokers inhaled vary on the particular case.

5. Does secondhand smoke cause cancer? Secondhand smoke could be a very important cause of cancer, especially, the lung cancer. But cancer could also be caused by other factors, such as heredity factor,chemical substances,radiation, etc.. But compared with nonsmokers who lived without secondhand smoke exposure, the ones lived with second hand exposure has a much higher risk of get cancer.

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9 thoughts on “Ultimate Guide to Second Hand Smoke

  1. I feel for the child in the first photograph, it is not only extremely unpleasant to be around smokers but one actually has unpleasant symptoms just from being in the same room, so I can well understand the suffereing of that child. Due to high rents in my city, I have to share a house with a friend who is a chronic chain-smoker. My life is a constant battle against passive smoke until I can afford to move out. My symptoms are tension in the temples and back of the neck and if I am present in the room for more than one cigarette, a burning sensation in the lungs and a feeling of headache which lasts until the next day. If I am able to leave the room politely after one cigarette I can avoid the latter but the smoke drifts round the house and so I will feel tense even if not in the same room as the smoker. I try to go out often and at nights I tape myself in my room and put wet socks under the door. If I don’t do this I will have a headache by morning. I have an air filter in my room and the landlord agrees to have on one in the kitchen when he smokes, which is every 15 minutes all day every day. He agrees that it is for his own health as well as mine, as he is himself living in passive smoke all his life- he hardly goes out- but he is complelely blind to the fact that he is poisoning himself and all around him, In fact he believes that the smoking is keeping him alive and cites 6 examples of people he knows who have given up smoking and then died, So I often am asked to buy his cigarettes as he can’t often reach the shop himself without sitting on the wall with a puffer. There is an additional risk of dropped cigarettes, especially as he smokes through the night. On this, he reassures me that they “always go out” despite the many burn marks on the carpet (and this is someone with a degree from Cambridge university, UK !). My escape route is out onto the flat roof and not to try to rescue unfit 20 stone imbeciles from burning buildings and I have told him this!
    The air in the house is bad as all the fabrics are affected by the smoke. There seems little that can be done for this man and I am trapped in quite a dangerous situation until I can escape, which is extremely unfair for the sake of addiction to Rothman cigarettes!
    But any grown up who subjects their child to passive smoke as in that photo, which seems real- that child is going to be affected even by the time for the photoshoot – are not only bad parents but selfish members of society and also a danger to themselves as well as others, there should be no “human right” to administer poison to oneself and to those around.

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