Just How Dangerous Is Secondhand Smoke?
Respiratory infections. Severe and chronic heart disease. Stroke. Cancer. These are just a few of the numerous health effects linked to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke is an immense danger. It is classified as a Class A carcinogen, as it has been proven to cause cancer in people. Plus, it contains more than 7,000 chemicals—250 are known to be harmful, and at least 70 cause cancer. After just a few minutes of exposure to secondhand smoke, a nonsmoker can begin to exhibit health problems comparable to those of smokers. Secondhand smoke causes disease and death in people who don’t smoke and kills nearly 50,000 nonsmokers each year.
Secondhand smoke is dangerous to everybody, but it’s especially harmful to children. Infants and young children are particularly vulnerable, as their bodies and lungs have not yet fully developed. In kids, exposure to secondhand smoke can lead to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), ear infections, asthma attacks, bronchitis, pneumonia and many other chronic illnesses. Right now, over 216,000 Oklahoma kids are exposed to it at home. That’s 1 in 5 Oklahoma kids.
There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. It can spread throughout homes and apartment buildings in a number of unexpected ways, like ventilation and forced air systems, doors and windows, electrical outlets and neighbors’ balconies and common areas. Secondhand smoke can cling to dust and surfaces, as well as rugs, curtains, clothes, food and furniture for days, weeks, months and even years. Also, since people spend a majority of their time at home, the exposure is likely to be prolonged, increasing the risk of illness or disease.
Secondhand smoke is a problem, and it needs to be solved. Learn how you can help at StopsWithMe.com. If you do use tobacco and are thinking about quitting, free help and nonjudgmental support is available at 1-800-QUIT NOW or OKhelpline.com.