Second-hand smoke (SHS) also called environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is a mixture of 2 forms of smoke viz Mainstream smoke and Sidestream smoke that comes from burning tobacco. Mainstream smoke is smoke exhaled by a smoker, while Sidestream smoke is the smoke that arises from the lighted end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar, or tobacco burning in a hookah. As compared to Mainstream smoke, sidestream smoke has higher concentrations of cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) and is more toxic. The particles are smaller in size making it easy to enter into the lungs and the body cells.
Involuntary smoking or passive smoking is when non-smokers are exposed to SHS taking in the same amount of nicotine and toxic chemicals as smokers. The more SHS you breathe, the higher the levels of these harmful chemicals in your body.
Second-hand smoke can be very harmful. With more than 7000 toxic chemicals Second-hand smoke is known to cause cancer in non-smokers. It also affects the heart and blood vessels, by increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Some studies have linked Second-hand Smoke to mental and emotional changes, too. Some studies have shown that exposure to Second-hand Smoke is linked to symptoms of depression. Children are at a higher risk of exposure to second-hand smoke, most of which comes from parents and other adults smoking at home. These children tend to get sick more often, are at a higher risk of developing lung infections (like bronchitis and pneumonia) and are more likely to have recurrent episodes of cough, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Second-hand smoke is also known to trigger asthmatic episodes, along with the worsening of symptoms as well as cause new cases of asthma in children who previously didn’t have any symptoms. All these problems may seem small at first, but one cannot neglect with bigger ones associated with it. These would include the expenses incurred, the trips to the doctors, medicines, lost school time, parents having to stay back home to care for their sick child, let alone the discomfort the child has to go through.
Individuals can be exposed to Second-hand Smoke either at their workplace, in public places or at their homes.
Most adults are exposed to Second-hand smoke at their workplace. Cleaning the air and ventilating the building still falls short in preventing exposure to Second-hand smoke if people continue to smoke in the building. There should be workplace smoking restrictions.
In public places:
When smoking is allowed in public places like restaurants, shopping malls, public transport, parks and schools everyone is at risk of exposure to Second-hand smoke. This is of special concern especially when it comes to children.
We spend most of our time at home. Making our home smoke free will protect our family, our guests and even our pets. Because of Second-hand smoke, any family member could develop health problems, children being especially sensitive to the toxins present in the smoke. Ventilation, air cleaning, or by separating smokers from non-smokers will not control the problem of Second-hand Smoke.
Lingering Smoking odours
Particles from second-hand tobacco smoke can settle in dust and on surfaces and remain there long after the smoke is gone. These particles can combine with gases, for example, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the air to form cancer-causing compounds that settle onto surfaces. These compounds may be stirred up and inhaled with other house dust and may also be accidentally taken in through the mouth.
How can you avoid second-hand smoke?
The following suggestions may help in reducing, or even eliminating, you and your family’s exposure to second-hand smoke:
- Politely ask your guests to smoke outside your house
- Ventilate rooms in your home and work by keeping open windows and using the fan.
- Avoid keeping ashtrays in your home.
- Instruct babysitters and other caregivers not to smoke around your children, even if it is in their own home.
- When visiting a smoker’s home with your children, try socializing outside whenever possible.
- For those of you working in a place that allows smoking, talk to your employer about modifying the company’s smoking policy. Encourage them to support a program to help their employees quit!
- If possible, ask to work near other non-smokers.
- Choose a non-smoking room, when staying in a hotel.
- Keep yourself updated to any changes in federal, state, and local smoking laws and become involved in strengthening those laws.
Disclaimer: The above information has been prepared by a qualified medical professional and may not represent the practices followed universally. The suggestions listed in this article constitute relatively common advice given to patients, and since every patient is different, you are advised to consult your physician, if in doubt, before acting upon this information. Lupin Limited has only facilitated the distribution of this information to you in the interest of patient education and welfare.