COPD & Lung Cancer: A breathtaking look at secondhand smoke.

Here’s a stat that will take your breath away: secondhand smoke kills nearly 50,000 nonsmokers in the U.S. every year — 2.5 million since 1964.

Of all the ways secondhand smoke can harm your body, the lungs take a direct hit. It can cause or worsen a wide range of breathing problems in children and adults, including COPD, lung cancer and respiratory infections.

Loaded with harmful, cancer-causing chemicals, cigarette smoke accounts for up to 90% of all lung cancer deaths — the number one cancer killer in the U.S. Every year, 7,300 nonsmokers die of lung cancer due to exposure to secondhand smoke.

Smoking is also the main cause of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), an incurable lung disease. It results in shortness of breath, coughing, swollen airways, scar tissue and death.

For infants and young children, secondhand smoke is particularly dangerous. Their still-developing lungs are especially vulnerable to secondhand smoke’s deadly chemicals. In Oklahoma alone, 216,000 kids are exposed to secondhand smoke at home. Smoking around children leads to 300,000 cases of respiratory infections every year.

Secondhand Smoke Health Risks

The health risks of secondhand smoke are troubling. These stats prove that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Not even air-cleaning systems, ventilation systems or separate smoking sections can eliminate its risk. As awareness increases, more and more Oklahomans are embracing tobacco-free businesses. Thanks to this awareness, more and more businesses are adopting smoke-free policies.

If you’re a smoker, quitting can improve your lungs and help prevent lung cancer. Within just a few weeks, your lung function increases and coughing and shortness of breath decrease. After 10 years, the risk of dying from lung cancer is cut in half. Even better, quitting will protect everyone around you from deadly secondhand smoke.

To learn more about the negative effects and impact of tobacco, visit

Trying to quit or thinking about quitting? The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline can help you. By calling 1-800-QUIT NOW, you’ll get FREE nonjudgmental support from a Quit Coach™ and customizable options like web and phone coaching, supportive texts and patches, gum or lozenges.

Published by Tobacco Stops With Me on November 1, 2016