The Health Risks of Secondhand Smoke: Devil In Disguise
Secondhand smoke is a serious health threat. Even if you don't smoke, the seemingly innocuous act of accompanying a friend for a ritualistic sutta can cause you more harm than you can imagine. Each year, it can single-handedly cause thousands of deaths among non-smokers! So, what is secondhand smoke, and how do you protect yourself and your loved ones from it? Read on to find out more on this ‘World No Tobacco Day’.
What is Secondhand Smoke?
|Did you know? Mere 30 minutes of exposure to secondhand smoke can cause heart damage like that of a daily smoker.
When you are near a source of tobacco smoke (cigarettes, hookah, or pipes), you risk unintentionally inhaling secondhand smoke. This could be at a public gathering, dost ki b'day party, or even at home with a smoking family member. Also known as passive smoke, involuntary smoke, or environmental tobacco smoke, it is a combination of two types of smoke:
- Mainstream Smoke: This is the smoke actively released by the person smoking.
- Sidestream Smoke: This is the smoke that emanates from the lit end of tobacco products like a cigar, cigarettes, or hookahs. This type of smoke has a high nicotine concentration and carcinogens since it is unfiltered.
How Harmful Is Secondhand Smoke?
When non-smokers are exposed to passive smoke, they involuntarily inhale toxic chemicals, exactly like smokers. It has no safe level of exposure. If you or your loved ones are exposed to these toxic chemicals, even for a short while, it can affect your health and cause damage within 5 minutes of exposure. Passive smoke can harm your body in more ways than one.
Health Problems Caused By Secondhand Smoke
|Health Problems Caused By Secondhand Smoke
|Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
|Reproductive Health Problems
Let’s talk about them in detail.
- Cardiovascular Disease: Secondhand smoke can lead to immediate harmful effects on the heart and blood vessels in non-smokers. Exposure to secondhand smoke can interfere with the normal functioning of the heart and vascular systems, leading to an increased risk of having a heart attack. It can damage the lining of blood vessels and cause platelets to become stickier.
- Stroke: Not only does exposure to secondhand smoke increase the risk of heart attacks, but it also increases the risk of stroke.
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): If exposed to secondhand smoke, infants are more likely to die from SIDS. Smoking during pregnancy also increases the risk for SIDS. This is because the chemicals found in secondhand smoke affect the brain, thereby interfering with how it regulates infants' breathing.
- Lung Cancer: Exposure to secondhand smoke can significantly increase lung cancer risk in non-smokers. People who do not smoke also inhale the same cancer-causing toxins if exposed to secondary smoke.
- Reproductive Health Problems: Exposure to secondhand smoke can increase the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. It could also lead to premature birth and low birth weight. If exposed to secondhand smoke, a pregnant woman may also suffer complications during birth.
- Asthma: Secondhand smoke can lead to an increased incidence of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).
- Children and Passive Smoke: Children are especially vulnerable to secondhand smoke and may suffer from more lung infections, cough, shortness of breath, and wheezing. Children may also be more prone to ear infections, cataract, tooth decay, and behavioural problems.
How do I Protect My Loved Ones From Passive Smoke?
Have you convinced yourself that you are smoking with the window open, phir toh safe hain? Or that the fan is on, or the room is ventilated and so the smoke isn't harmful? That's as far from the truth as the North Pole is from the South Pole.
Secondhand smoke is all around us! Be it in a car, a relative's house, a mall, restaurants or parks. Maybe work is stressful, and you want to unwind with friends, but they need their sutta. So, even if you have quit smoking, you are still susceptible to damage caused by passive smoke. What can you do to protect yourself and your loved ones?
The first thing you can do to eliminate secondhand smoke is to quit smoking on this ‘World No Tobacco Day’. There're no two ways about it. With the right resources (NRT products like RYZE nicotine gum, nicotine patches and others can help you quit gradually) and support at your disposal, you can make a quitting plan that is effective and delivers results.
Here are a few simple ideas you can try to keep your family and yourself safe from passive smoke.
- Make your house smoke-free.
- Make your car smoke-free too.
- Try to stay away from areas where people smoke. This can include your favourite hangouts with your smoking friends and restaurants where smoking is still allowed.
- Secondhand smoke is common if a close friend or family member smokes. Try suggesting they quit: for their health and yours.
- It's ok to ask people to refrain from smoking near you and your loved ones.
- Keep your children away from places where smoking is permitted; chemicals from smoke stay on surfaces for days after smoking occurs.
- Educate your children about the dangers of secondhand smoke and teach them to avoid it.
In a nutshell, we cannot ignore the risks associated with secondhand smoke. The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from its devastating effects is by keeping your surroundings smoke-free. If you smoke, think about quitting today, and if it is someone close to you, encourage them to do the same. By promoting a smoke-free lifestyle, you are taking a crucial step towards a healthy future for yourself and your loved ones.