Cigarette smoking leads to many health diseases that can cause disabilities and even death. Although medical experts have conducted numerous studies proving the grave effects of smoking on smokers’ health, millions of people around the world are still addicted to this habit. Non-smokers’ health are also threatened by the second-hand smoke emitted by first-hand smokers.
What is Second-Hand Smoke?
In medical terms, second-hand smoke, also referred to as passive smoke or exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, is generally an admixture of smoke emitted by a lighted cigarette or tobacco. It is also the smoke that is exhaled by smokers. Second-hand smoke stays in the air for hours, and it is uncontrollably inhaled by non-smokers, which may include children.
According to medical studies, second-hand smoke contains more than 4000 ill-causing chemicals. When non-smokers are exposed to this mainstream cigar smoke, they are invariably inhaling toxic components like carcinogens. Carcinogens include harmful chemical combinations like benzo and butadiene. As soon as a non-smoker breathes in second-hand smoke, he is likely to acquire 11 human carcinogen toxins, which are also known as cancer-chemical agents. With such components of mainstream smoke, too much exposure to these by-product emissions is considered lethal.
Effects of Second-Hand Smoke
With the harmful, toxic agents found in the components of second-hand smoke, health studies reveal that exposure to tobacco or cigar smoke can cause short and long-term effects on non-smokers and children.
The short-term effects of exposure to second-hand smoke involve those who have asthma and other minor respiratory problems. If you are asthmatic and get exposed to second-hand smoke, you will likely experience attacks brought on by the emitted smoke.
Since second-hand smoke is considered an allergen, those with allergy conditions can experience runny nose, wheezing, nausea, sneezing, coughing, and other common allergy symptoms once they are exposed to cigar smoke. As for non-smokers who do not have allergy or asthma condition, they can also feel nauseated, sleepy, as well as acquire headaches when exposed to second-hand smoke.
These short-term effects of second-hand smoke exposure will eventually fade as soon as the exposure to emitted smoke ends. However, if you are to be exposed repeatedly with second-hand smoke, you will surely acquire serious, long-term effects of mainstream cigarette smoke.
On the other hand, the long-term effects of second-hand smoke are the same with the scientifically proven health problems caused by direct cigarette smoking. Medical studies show that exposure to second-hand smoke can cause serious respiratory diseases like asthma, bronchitis, and COCP as well as other health maladies like cardiovascular-related illnesses.
Based on the current findings of the US Surgeon General’s Report, scientific facts state that once you get exposed to second-hand smoke, your body’s blood platelets will become stickier, thus resulting damage to your blood vessel linings. Damaged blood vessel lines will likely affect the coronary flow of your blood and reduce the variability of your heart rate. These instances will then increase your chances of experiencing heart attacks. Also, according to other experts’ studies, children and non-smokers who are socializing with people who are active smokers have a greater chance of acquiring lung cancer and other respiratory diseases. With this fact, non-smokers who are continuously exposed to second-hand smoke can also acquire grave illnesses even if they are not really smoking.
Aside from being vulnerable to lung cancer and heart-related problems, over-exposure to second-hand smoke can also lead to birth defects and miscarriages. If you are pregnant and your partner or husband is a smoker, the chances of acquiring birth defects and experiencing problems during childbirth are high. As you give birth, your baby, whose lungs are still developing, will likely have weak lungs and heart, thus making him susceptible to many other diseases. Moreover, healthy adults and children can also develop asthma if they are always exposed to second-hand smoke. Since you are always inhaling the smoke emitted by the smokers around you, you will likely acquire asthma even though you do not have the respiratory condition before.
Second-hand smoke can also increase your risk in acquiring ear infections. Studies show that emitted smoke from cigarettes can cause fluid build-up in the middle ear. This fact resulted to over a million cases of ear infections among kids and adults who are non-smokers.
Actions Regarding Second-Hand Smoke
In order to avoid acquiring health problems brought by the exposure to second-hand smoke, almost all US states now implement smoking bans in public places and establishments that serve drink and food. These establishments include restaurants, dinners, cafes, nightclubs, and other dining areas.
Other countries have also established and implemented smoking ban laws in their jurisdictions as actions to the alarming health issues caused by second-hand smoking. Most countries also prohibit smoking in all public areas, buildings, and private establishments. As most smoking regulation laws explain, all office buildings should contain ventilated areas to accommodate smokers and keep non-smokers from being exposed to second-hand smoke. Some regions also prohibit smoking in workplaces, hospitals, public transportation, schools, and shelter areas.
Upon the enactment of smoking ban laws of various countries, statistics show that the number of reported respiratory ailments and other related-smoking illnesses has significantly dropped. Studies also show that some countries, which are traditionally viewed as smoking states, have shown improvements in the number of people who already quit smoking.
As an overall analysis, first-hand smokers are not the only ones who will likely to suffer from the grave effects brought by smoking. The second-hand smoke that smokers emit causes grave effects to children and non-smokers’ health. In order to avoid the risks of acquiring respiratory diseases, non-smokers should avoid areas where they are susceptible from inhaling second-hand smoke emissions.
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