Dealing with secondhand smoke
Smoking is not only bad for the person who smokes. It can also affect the people around him causing a lot of health problems like heart disease and cancer. These are the dangers of secondhand smoke that can affect family members and friends.
Secondhand smoke or environmental tobacco smoke contains two types of smoke. The smoke that the smoker exhales is called mainstream smoke while the one that comes from the burning tobacco is known as sidestream smoke. Secondhand smoke is no different from the smoke that kills smokers. It has thousands of toxic substances like benzene, carbon monoxide, cyanide, formaldehyde and lead.
If you happen to breathe secondhand smoke even for a short time, your lungs will be irritated and the oxygen supply of your blood will be reduced. Since dangerous particles in secondhand smoke can stay in the air for hours, prolonged or repeated exposure can make your life miserable.
Secondhand smoke can affect many parts of the body and lead to lung diseases like asthma and bronchitis. Your risk of getting a heart attack increases with secondhand smoke since this destroys blood vessels, affects circulation and makes you susceptible to blood clots. Cancer is another disease associated with secondhand smoke.
Infants who inhale secondhand smoke are more likely to have low birth weight and suffer from sudden infant death syndrome. This can occur whether the child was exposed during pregnancy or after birth.
Infections are also common among children who live with smokers. These kids are at greater risk for middle ear infections and lower respiratory tract infections. Other problems associated with secondhand smoke are chronic cough, phlegm and wheezing. Eye and nose irritation are other problems caused by secondhand smoke.
To reduce or eliminate your exposure to secondhand smoke, here’s what to do:
Make your home smoke-free. Don’t allow anyone to smoke in your home. If a guest or family member likes to smoke, politely tell them to go outside. Don’t waste time turning on your air conditioner or opening a window. They won’t clean the air.
Make your car a no smoking zone. Never let anyone light a cigarette in your vehicle. If a passenger wants to smoke on the road, go to the nearest rest stop or pull aside for a smoke break outside the car.
Don’t tolerate smoking in the office. Your officemates should know better. Ensure that smoking restrictions are followed in your workplace. Ventilation fans can’t remove secondhand smoke from the air.
Select smoke-free care facilities for your kids and other family members. If you must entrust your children to a child care provider, pick one with a no smoking policy. The same rule applies to aging loved ones.
Choose places with no smoking policies. Visit restaurants and other establishments that are smoke- free. Let management know that you love the healthy air so these no smoking policies will be reinforced.
Stay away from smokers. If someone smokes nearby, move away as far as possible.
If someone in your family smokes, help that person quit by giving your support and encouragement. This will keep your family healthy.