When someone smokes a cigarette, most of the smoke doesn’t go into their lungs. It goes into the air, where anyone nearby can breathe it.
Smoking is banned in many public places. But many people are still exposed to secondhand smoke, especially children who live with parents who smoke. Even people who try to be careful about where they light up may not protect those around them.
The smoke can come from a cigarette, cigar, or pipe. Tobacco smoke has more than 4,000 chemical compounds, at least 250 are known to cause disease.
Secondhand smoke raises the risk that others will get lung cancer and many other types of cancer. It can also lead to emphysema. Secondhand smoke is bad for your heart.
Smoke makes your blood stickier, raises your “bad” LDL cholesterol, and damages the lining of your blood vessels. Eventually, these changes can make you more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.
Dangers for Children
Kids are particularly at risk for the effects of secondhand smoke because their bodies are still growing and they breathe at a faster rate than adults.
These conditions have been linked to secondhand smoke exposure in children:
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- More respiratory infections (such as bronchitis and pneumonia)
- More severe and frequent asthma attacks
- Ear infections
- Chronic cough
Smoking during pregnancy is especially dangerous to the developing baby. It’s tied to premature delivery, low birth weight, SIDS, limited mental ability, trouble with learning, and ADHD. The more cigarettes a mother-to-be smokes, the greater the danger to her baby.
How to Avoid Secondhand Smoke
It’s simple: Avoid being around people who are smoking, and try to convince those around you who smoke to quit. Anyone who smoke should do so outside, as far away from other people as possible.