What Is Secondhand Smoke?
- Secondhand smoke is the smoke breathed out by smokers and the smoke from the burning end of a cigarette, cigar or pipe. The smoke from the burning end of a cigarette has many harmful chemicals.
- Secondhand smoke is also called environmental tobacco smoke (ETS); exposure to secondhand smoke is called involuntary smoking, or passive smoking.
- It is not easy to avoid secondhand smoke because about one in four people smoke. The following are tips on how to protect yourself and your family.
Why Should You Worry About Secondhand Smoke?
- Secondhand smoke causes about 3,000 deaths each year from lung cancer in people who don't smoke.
- Secondhand smoke causes irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat.
- Secondhand smoke can also irritate the lungs, leading to coughing, excessive phlegm and chest discomfort.
- Secondhand smoke has been linked with the onset of chest pain and is associated with death from heart disease in 37,000 people each year.
Secondhand Smoke Especially Hurts Children!
- Children who breathe secondhand smoke are more likely to suffer from pneumonia, bronchitis, and other lung diseases.
- Children who breathe secondhand smoke have more ear infections.
- Children who breathe secondhand smoke are more likely to develop asthma.
- Children who have asthma and who breathe secondhand smoke have more asthma attacks.
- There are an estimated 150,000 to 300,000 cases every year of infections, such as bronchitis and pneumonia in infants and children under 18 months of age who breathe secondhand smoke. These result in between 7,500 and 15,000 hospitalizations!
HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY?
Here are some ways to protect yourself and your family from secondhand smoke:
- Don't smoke in your home.
- Ask other people not to smoke in your home, especially baby-sitters or others who may care for your children.
- Ask smokers to go outside while they smoke.
- If someone must smoke inside, limit them to rooms where windows can be opened or fans can be used to send the smoke outside.
- Help people who are trying to quit smoking.
WHAT IF YOU SMOKE?
- NEVER SMOKE AROUND CHILDREN.
- Children are especially sensitive to the dangers of secondhand smoke.
- If you smoke, try to smoke only in an open area away from your family.
- Many of the substances stay in the air even after the cigarette, cigar, or pipe is gone.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY OUTSIDE OF YOUR HOME?
- Let family, friends and people you work with know that you do care if they smoke around you.
- In your car, do not smoke or allow others to smoke while the windows are rolled up.
- In restaurants and bars, ask to sit in the non-smoking area.
- Make sure your child's day-care, school and after-school programs are smoke-free.
- Ask your employer to make sure you do not have to breathe other people's smoke at work.
For more information on the Freedom From SmokingŪ programs, contact your local American Lung Association at 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872). This is the most important step you can take to protect yourself and your family from the dangers of secondhand smoke.