You’ve probably heard of secondhand smoke endangering those living with smokers. When someone lights a cigarette in a closed room, everyone inhales the same dangerous smoke as the one puffing the cigarette.
Industrial workers must always wear protective equipment to ensure they don’t expose themselves to dangerous fumes, especially if they’re working in poorly ventilated areas.
Let’s take a close look at the effects of secondhand smoke on the environment and anyone around the area, especially children and animals.
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What Is Secondhand Smoke?
Secondhand smoke comes from cigarettes, fireplaces, and anything you can burn – even paper or matches. Any combustion-engine vehicle, regardless of maintenance and fuel-burning capability, produces smoke.
In short, whenever you light anything, even if it’s not cigarettes, the burnt material will produce smoke that puts everyone near you in danger.
What Is In Secondhand Smoke?
If you can smell it, you’ve already inhaled secondhand smoke from a cigarette and other sources. These chemicals are the primary source of the dangers of secondhand smoke:
Carbon Monoxide: Without any scent, carbon monoxide is a silent killer. This chemical, also found in vehicle emissions, is also found in secondhand smoke and can affect red blood cell oxygenation – the blood’s ability to carry oxygen in various parts of the body.
Aldehydes: These are compounds used in industrial antibacterial solutions. Formaldehyde, used primarily for embalming, is one of these. They are known respiratory irritants that can cause severe damage to the lungs.
Particulate Matter: The lungs were designed to inhale fresh, uncontaminated air. Even if cigarette filters catch most of them, secondhand smoke still contains these irritants that can cause coughing, wheezing, and watery eyes to people around you.
Metals: Cigarette paper and tobacco contain large amounts of cadmium, lead, arsenic, and zinc, metals that accumulate in the body and can cause severe health problems.
Sulphur Dioxide: This gas has a signature odour that’s easily detectable. Once inhaled from secondhand smoke, you can have breathing difficulties or trigger asthma attacks due to bronchoconstriction.
Why Secondhand Smoke Is Dangerous
As you can see, the chemicals produced by smoke listed earlier are irritants and can cause dangerous lung damage to the smoker and people and pets in the area with the following effects.
The Effects of Breathing In Secondhand Smoke
When you walk into an open smoking area and stay for a while, you’ll probably feel your eyes starting to water after a few minutes.
A few more moments later, you’ll start coughing and wheezing, a clear sign that you’ve already inhaled a substantial amount of secondhand smoke irritating the lungs and increasing its mucous production.
Later on, you’ll feel breathing has become laborious, requiring more effort as your bronchial tubes start to constrict. People prone to asthma attacks may feel their symptoms worsening.
Child-bearing women exposed to cigarette smoke are at a significantly increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Remember that secondhand smoke reduces the blood’s capacity to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the body, especially to the unborn baby with many nutritional needs.
Smoking with children in the room greatly endangers their developmental and respiratory development. Nicotine has adverse cognitive effects on children, affecting their learning capabilities and frontal lobe development.
Frequently inhaling cigarette smoke also permanently affects their sense of taste and smell and will impair their lung development, causing possible long-term breathing issues and capacity to provide oxygen to the body.
Living with a dog, cat, or any other pet? It’s important to stop smoking for their sake as well.
Due to their smaller bodies and sensitive organs, pets are in grave danger when inhaling smoke or accidentally consuming contaminated food or licking areas cigarette smoke has touched (this is known as thirdhand smoke).
Anyone who has lived with a smoker who consumes tobacco in the same room is also at a higher risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer.
A person with comorbidities from diabetes and other severe diseases will likely feel their symptoms worsen after years of inhaling the compounds in secondhand smoke.
Asthma Episodes From Secondhand Smoke
People with asthma suffer greatly from the short and long-term effects of cigarette smoke. Breathing is already laborious for them, and inhaling the compounds in smoke will cause their bronchial tubes to constrict further, making breathing difficult.
Moreover, asthmatic people produce more mucous in their airways, doubling the effort to breathe in enough air for oxygenation.
More importantly, asthma medications that help provide relief will become drastically ineffective the longer an asthmatic person inhales secondhand smoke.
If you have a child or anyone who suffers from asthma attacks, especially if they’ve been in this condition for a long time, it’s probably time to stop smoking for good on their behalf, and for your sake as well.
Facts About Secondhand Smoking
Now that you know about the dangers of secondhand smoke, it’s time to see its lethal impact on people around chronic smokers.
There are about 7,330 deaths from lung cancer and 33,950 deaths from heart disease each year due to the long-term inhalation of secondhand smoke. The same report we cited also indicates that between 1964 and 2014, 2.5 million people died due to stroke caused by smoke inhalation from other sources.
Secondhand smoke is also the main cause of productivity problems in the workplace.The report mentions that employees exposed to secondhand smoke and tobacco consumption have poorer performance in handling their tasks.
All this data shows that secondhand smoking isn’t harmless. It’s extremely harmful – and it’s a problem that’s easily preventable by stopping smoking for good.
The Effects of Secondhand Smoke: Is It Really Worth It?
It’s clear as day to see that secondhand smoke endangers the people you love the most – even your pet, who unconditionally loves you. The best way to return their love and concern for you is to ensure they remain healthy by quitting smoking.
The best part about it is once you stop smoking, you also make yourself healthier, happier, and more productive in achieving everything you’ve dreamed of.
If you want to start your quit journey, we can help you.
Smokefree Clinic gives you access to many medically reviewed and trustworthy resources that can inform and aid you in your path to wellness, so have a look around!
If you’re ready to get started, Smokefree can connect you to Australian healthcare professionals who excel in helping patients quit smoking for good.