Passive Smoking

The non-smoker breathes "sidestream" smoke from the burning tip of the cigarette and "mainstream" smoke that has been inhaled and then exhaled by the smoker.

The Consequences of Passive Smoking

Breathing other people's smoke is called passive, involuntary or second-hand smoking. The non-smoker breathes "sidestream" smoke from the burning tip of the cigarette and "mainstream" smoke that has been inhaled and then exhaled by the smoker.

Tobacco smoke contains over 4000 chemicals in the form of particles and gases. The main constituents are Nicotine - an addictive drug that stimulates the nervous system raising heart rate and blood pressure, Tar which holds most of the 4,000 chemicals and is absorbed into the body via the lungs and Carbon Monoxide a poisonous gas that effects the arteries of smokers and can lead to both circulatory and heart problems in later life. Of the other thousands of chemicals you will find in passive smoke the worst are known carcinogens such as Arsenic, Toluene, Cyanide and many more.

Passive smoke can effect non-smokers in many ways. Some of the immediate effects include eye irritation, headache, cough, sore throat, dizziness and nausea. Adults with asthma can experience a significant decline in lung function when exposed, while new cases of asthma may be induced in children whose parents smoke. Non-smokers are also at increased risk of heart attacks.

In the longer term, passive smokers suffer an increased risk of a range of smoking-related diseases. For example, non-smokers who are exposed to passive smoking in the home, have a 25 per cent increased risk of heart disease and lung cancer. A major review by the Government-appointed Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health (SCOTH) concluded that passive smoking is a cause of lung cancer and ischaemic heart disease in adult non-smokers, and a cause of respiratory disease, cot death, middle ear disease and asthmatic attacks in children. While the relative health risks from passive smoking are small in comparison with those from active smoking, because the diseases are common, the overall health impact is large. Based on the findings of the SCOTH report and the review by the California Environmental Protection Agency ASH has calculated that, each year in the UK, about 600 lung cancer deaths and up to 12,000 cases of heart disease in nonsmokers can be attributed to passive smoking.

The Risk to Young Children

Forty-nine per cent of all children in the UK are exposed to tobacco smoke at home. Passive smoking is causally associated with an increased risk of lower respiratory tract infections such as bronchitis, pneumonia and bronchiolitis in children. One recent study found that, in households where both parents smoke, young children have a 72 per cent increased risk of respiratory illnesses. Passive smoking causes a reduction in lung function and increased severity in the symptoms of asthma in children, and is a risk factor for new cases of asthma in children. In the UK it is estimated that children from smoking households have twice the risk of developing asthma. Chronic cough and phlegm are also more frequent among children of parents who smoke.

Infants of parents who smoke are more likely to be admitted to hospital for bronchitis and pneumonia in the first year of life. More than 17,000 children under the age of five are admitted to hospital every year because of the effects of passive smoking. Childhood respiratory illnesses caused by passive smoking may also contribute to the development of respiratory disease in adult life among non-smokers.

The California EPA report has shown that exposure to passive smoking during pregnancy is an independent risk factor for low birth weight. Parental smoking could be responsible for up to 25% of cot deaths and children exposed to passive smoking are 30% more likely to develop glue ear which is the commonest cause of deafness in children.

Tobacco - The Facts

Tobacco was introduced to Europe from the New World at the end of the fifteenth century. Smoking spread rapidly and was long regarded as having medicinal value. It was not until the 20th century, however, that smoking became a mass habit and not until after the Second World War that the dangers of smoking were firmly established.

Cancer Facts

Tobacco use, particularly cigarette smoking, is the single most preventable cause of death in the United Kingdom. Cigarette smoking alone is directly responsible for at least one-third of all cancer deaths annually in the United Kingdom, and contributes to the development of low birth weight babies and cardiovascular disease.

Time Heals

I do feel better, not a lot but enough that I'm glad that I quit. A lot of my "mysterious" ailments are gone, ones that I used to experience on a daily basis. I know for a fact that my stomach pains are gone due to the decrease of stomach acid since I quit. People with any form of stomach irritation should not smoke.