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passive smoking

Passive Smoking

Significant research, as noted by the American Cancer Society shows the dangers of passive smoking. These dangers serve as a strong basis to support continuing legislation to ban smoking in any areas where non-smokers get exposure to passive smoke and especially in areas with the presence of children.

Passive Smoking Definition *

What is passive smoking? Passive smoking happens when a person is in an area where other people are actively smoking and they inhale the smoke caused by others. This is “secondhand” smoke.

Secondhand smoke has two components. The first part is the smoke in the area that smokers exhaled. This is the “mainstream” smoke. The second part is the “sidestream” smoke. Sidestream smoke comes from a lit cigarette, cigar, pipe, or a hookah filled with burning tobacco.

Sidestream smoke is more dangerous. There are greater concentrations of cancer-causing chemicals in sidestream smoke. The smoke particles are smaller and easily find their way into the lungs and then the bloodstream of a person exposed to secondhand smoke.

Cancer Research UK notes that sidestream smoke has greater levels of harmful chemicals, including:

  • Between ten to thirty times more toxic nitrosamines.
  • Triple the amount of the poisonous carbon monoxide.
  • Up to three hundred times the level of ammonia found in mainstream smoke.

Passive Smoking Effects *

Passive smoke is just as dangerous as active smoke, depending on its concentration in the air breathed. The American Cancer Society notes that secondhand smoke has serious health risks.

A person exposed to secondhand smoke must inhale it during the normal course of breathing. This is why in many public areas it is illegal to smoke, when others have exposure to the smoke. Moreover, many places have laws that prohibit smoking in automobiles when children are present. When the adults in a vehicle smoke, the child has no choice but to breathe in the toxic chemicals.

Places with poor ventilation containing many smokers increase the negative effects of secondhand smoke on the non-smokers. The American Cancer Society reports that there is no safe level of secondhand smoke. Employees who work in places where smoking is permissible, such as certain casinos and in bars, are seriously risking their health, even if they never smoke a single cigarette directly.

Cancer Comes from Secondhand Smoke *

The American Cancer Society reminds us that there are over 7,000 chemicals in secondhand smoke and 70 of them cause cancer. Cancer Research UK estimates that passive smoking increases a non-smoker’s risk of getting lung cancer by around 25%. Passive smoking also increases the risk of getting throat cancer or cancer in the larynx.

Secondhand smoke causes other breathing problems associated with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

In the UK alone, Cancer Research UK reports that more than 12,000 people die each year from the diseases caused by exposure to secondhand smoke. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States gives these estimates for the deaths caused in America by secondhand smoke:

  • About 2.5 million non-smoking Americans died during the last fifty years from diseases caused by passive smoking.
  • About 34,000 deaths from heart disease occurred each year from 2005 to 2009 in adults who were non-smokers, yet had exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • During that same period, each year about 7,300 non-smoking adult Americans died from lung cancer due to exposure to secondhand smoke.

The good news is the CDC reports that exposure to secondhand smoke in America is decreasing. Non-smokers have rights to good health and a smoke-free environment. The next time a smoker lights up in front of a non-smoker, the smoker needs to hear politely, yet firmly, to take the poisonous cigarette outside and far away from the entrance areas of the facility. Someone poisoning himself or herself with cigarette smoke, does not have the right to do that to any others and especially to create any suffering for any children.

Children and Secondhand Smoke *

Children are especially vulnerable to the ill effects caused by secondhand smoke. When children live in a home with an active smoker, they are much more likely to develop asthma, bacterial meningitis, and respiratory infections. Infants have greater risk for sudden infant death syndrome. Cancer Research UK says that secondhand smoke causes about 165,000 new childhood diseases each year in just the UK alone.

The CDC says that children exposed to secondhand smoke will have the following problems:

  • Frequent ear infections.
  • Greater likelihood of developing asthma and having severe asthma attacks.
  • Higher chances of contracting pneumonia and bronchitis.
  • More coughing, shortness of breath, sneezing, and allergic reactions.
  • The likelihood of developing cancer.

Even when the windows of a home are open, smoke still permeates the house. Up to 85% of the deadly toxic chemicals found in cigarette smoke are invisible and include the poison, carbon monoxide.

The Highly Toxic Levels of Secondhand Smoke in Automobiles *

When riding in an automobile, the toxic levels of secondhand smoke exceed the levels found in smoky bars. Tobaccofreekids.org notes that the toxic effects of secondhand smoke on children when riding in cars does not disappear by having the windows open.

A video report on a study done at Stanford University showed that smoking just a half of a cigarette in a vehicle caused the air pollution in the car to exceed ten times the standard of toxic air pollution allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Children with parents that smoke around them suffer from many ill effects on their health. It is completely irresponsible for any parent to expose any child to secondhand smoke.

Non-Smokers Get Cancer from Secondhand Smoke *

Besides increased risk of heart disease and stroke, the American Cancer Society notes that secondhand smoke causes these types of cancers:

  • Bladder
  • Brain
  • Breast
  • Larynx
  • Nasal Passages
  • Rectum
  • Stomach
  • Throat

In children, secondhand smoke increases the risk of brain tumors, leukemia, liver cancer, and lymphomas.

Areas for Exposure to Secondhand Smoke *

There are many areas that non-smokers may face exposure to secondhand smoke, so there needs to be a serious vigilance to avoid the problem. As mentioned above, up to 85% of the toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke are invisible. One of the worst offenders is carbon monoxide. This same poison comes from car exhaust. It is odorless, colorless, and deadly. Even tiny amounts of exposure can harm infants, making them lethargic, and non-responsive and leading to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

If there is a baby in the house, do NOT smoke in the house at all, otherwise you may be responsible for killing your own baby!

The Workplace *

It may surprise many that secondhand smoke permeates all interior spaces of any building. Even if the smoking areas are segregated, the toxic chemicals from cigarette smoke can easily leaks through cracks, pass through walls, tiny openings around doorways, and be spread throughout the building by the ventilation system.

As the CDC recommends, there is no safe limit for exposure to secondhand smoke. The only responsible position in the workplace is that the entire building is smoke-free.  This includes the areas near the entrance. If a worker needs to have a smoke, they must go far away, outside, and it is better if they feel like they are taking a heron injection or something as bad as that.

Companies need to discriminate against smokers and they have a legal right to prohibit any smoking of any kind at the workplace. This is now the best practice and many organizations follow this rule.

For existing employees that are valuable to the company and still have a smoking addiction. the best practice is to offer state-of-the-art smoking cessations programs to help the valued employees stop smoking.

No matter what the excuses may be, millions have quit smoking, and it is possible for anyone to achieve this goal with enough support. To be frank, it seems like insanity that a toxic product that kills people is still for sale. Somehow, tobacco got a free pass when compared to other toxic products/pharmaceuticals that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other global authorities banned including those found on this partial list:

  • Adderall XR
  • Alosetron (Lotronex)
  • Alpidem (Ananxyl)
  • Amineptine (Survector)
  • Aprotinin (Trasylol)
  • Astemizole (Hismanal)
  • Buformin
  • Cerivastatin (Baycol, Lipobay)
  • Chlormezanone (Trancopal)
  • Cisapride (Propulsid)
  • Co-proxamol (Distalgesic)
  • Diethylstilbestrol
  • Drotrecogin alfa (Xigris)
  • Efalizumab (Raptiva)
  • Etretinate
  • Exubera
  • Fen-phen
  • Flosequinan (Manoplax)
  • Gemtuzumab ozogamicin (Mylotarg)
  • Grepafloxacin (Raxar)
  • Levamisole (Ergamisol)
  • Lumiracoxib (Prexige)
  • Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)
  • Methaqualone
  • Mibefradil (Posicor)
  • Natalizumab (Tysabri)
  • Nomifensine (Merital)
  • Palladone
  • Pemoline (Cylert)
  • Pergolide (Permax)
  • Phenacetin
  • Phenformin
  • Phenylpropanolamine (Propagest, Dexatrim)
  • Rapacuronium (Raplon)
  • Rimonabant (Acomplia)
  • Rofecoxib (Vioxx)
  • Rosiglitazone (Avandia)
  • Saccharin
  • Sibutramine (Reductil/Meridia)
  • Tegaserod (Zelnorm)
  • Temafloxacin
  • Temazepam (Restoril, Euhypnos, Normison, Remestan, Tenox, Norkotral)
  • Terfenadine (Seldane, Triludan)
  • Terodiline (Micturin)
  • Thalidomide
  • Thioridazine (Melleril)
  • Ticrynafen
  • Tolcapone (Tasmar)
  • Tolrestat (Alredase)
  • Triazolam
  • Troglitazone (Rezulin)
  • Trovafloxacin (Trovan)
  • Ximelagatran (Exanta)
  • Zimelidine

The point of listing so many things banned by the FDA and other global authorities is the deaths attributed to ALL of these substances, now banned as drugs, pale in comparison to the tens of millions of deaths from tobacco use. Is the FDA really doing its job? Why does not the “Wars on Drugs,” include a “War on Tobacco?” This is the height of hypocrisy. A deadly toxic substance continues to sell legally, even though decades of scientific research prove how dangerous it is to smoke tobacco products.

In the United States, there are multiple organizations in charge of protecting the health of workers, which include the CDC, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). These Federal agencies responsible for health and safety in the workplace, recognize there are no known safe levels of secondhand smoke, and recommend that exposure to secondhand smoke be zero.

The Surgeon General of the United States says the only solution in the workplace is a completely 100% smoke-free environment. No smoking is permissible on any business premise, not even in restricted areas inside the buildings, because of the real serious risk of cross-contamination.

When organizations take this lead to build a 100% smoke-free working staff, they help the healthy workers avoid risk and encourage those practicing unhealthy behaviors to make their best efforts to change them.

Public Places *

The persistent evil of secondhand smoke is that it affects anyone in any public environment where smoking is allowed. This includes any areas of public transportation, restaurants, public events, parks, schools, shopping centers, and so many more areas.

There is really no excuse whatsoever that those in charge of caring for the public, permit any smoking in any public places. A permanent 100% ban is the only appropriate solution.

There are some places where residual smoking causes problems that may not be obvious. An example of this would be a private day care center in a home, where the workers and residents of the home smoke cigarettes. Even if these workers do not smoke in front of the children, the residual negative effects of smoking in the same environment where children will be present the next day are well-proven.

Businesses do better when they go 100% smoke-free. This includes all the environments, all the facilities, and all the people who visit or work there.

Secondhand Smoke at Home *

A stand-alone home is easier to make 100% smoke-free. Parents owe it to their children to provide a safe, healthy environment, where they can breathe fresh air, and not breath in toxins. Creating a smoke-free environment in your home is the best way to protect your children, your significant other, your friends, and the family pets.

With multi-tenant buildings the problems is more challenging. Smoke is pervasive and goes through cracks, flows inside of walls, penetrates the ventilation systems, and fills the elevator shafts.

If anyone is smoking in the interior of a building, there is a near perfect guarantee that the other occupants will have a negative effect from the smoke. Smoke removal is not possible by ventilation, filtration, cleaning of the air, or by supposed physical barriers between the smokers and the non-smokers. Smoke goes everywhere. Because of this problem many multi-unit tenant housing is now making it illegal to smoke anywhere inside the building.

If you happen to still be a smoker, do not despair, just make it your priority life goal to stop smoking using the many aides that are available. If you do this for yourself, you also do this for your family, your friends, and your children.


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