5 Major Health Effects of Passive Smoking

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in quit smoking

The 3 Week Diet

If you think smokers are only harming themselves, think again. A 2010 study involving 192 countries found that passive smoking kills about 600,000 people each year, a third of which are children.


What is Passive Smoking?

Passive smoking is the involuntary inhaling of smoke from other people’s cigarettes. The smoke coming from tobacco can stay up in the air for as long as two-and-a-half hours, even with the window open. Cigarette smoke may still be there even if you can’t see or smell it.


What are the major health risks of passive smoking?

  • First off, inhaling second-hand smoke can increase your risk of chronic illnesses that are associated with first-hand smoke. These include lung cancer, heart disease and brain damage. Passive smoking from all forms of tobacco, such as cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and hand-rolled tobacco products are all harmful to health. Non-smokers who are exposed to cigarette smoke at home or at work are 20-30 percent more likely to develop lung cancer.
  • Passive smoking is particularly harmful for children. Children frequently exposed to second-hand smoke are at high risk of asthma, meningitis, cot death or SIDs, coughs and colds, middle ear disease which can cause hearing loss, and serious respiratory diseases such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
  • Children who grow up with smoking family members are three times more likely to begin smoking themselves.
  • Exposure to passive smoking has immediate adverse effects on one’s cardiovascular system and can cause coronary heart disease. Inhaling second-hand smoke interferes with the normal functioning of the heart, blood vessels and other vascular systems, leading to an increased risk in heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
  • Exposure to second-hand smoke also raises the risk of other types of cancer, such as breast cancer, throat cancer and mouth cancer.

There is no “safe level” of exposure to second-hand smoke and it only takes a single exposure for a person to experience its adverse side effects. This is why promoting a smoke-free environment is highly important.

If you are a smoker, you may consider quitting now to protect your family and loved ones against the dangers of passive smoking. Quitting smoking today will not just benefit your family and other people; it can also benefit your health. The moment you stop smoking, your risk of developing serious illness, including heart disease and cancer, will decrease.

If you had been a smoker for several years now, quitting all of a sudden may be difficult to do. It is therefore important to plan and strategize on how you are going to drop he habit. Seeking professional help is recommended. You may consider taking medications like Chantix or undergoing counseling treatment to effectively deal with issues on nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Above all, the support of your family and friends are of major importance.

If you don’t smoke but someone you know does, help him or her quit now. You can inspire other people to change unhealthy habits for the good ones  by becoming a role model, supporting them, and motivating them to quit for good.



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