Second-hand Smoke: What you need to know

Second-hand smoke is smoke inhaled from other people’s tobacco smoke. 85% of particles in second-hand smoke are invisible and odourless.

Second-hand smoke is an incredibly potent toxin. It is estimated that over 40,000 people die from second-hand smoke-related deaths yearly in the United States. In Nigeria, there are about 16,100 tobacco-related deaths annually.

The effects of second-hand smoke are insidious because non-smokers are generally affected. 85% of all lung cancers are caused by cigarettes while in non-smokers, second-hand smoke is the largest risk factor for lung cancer.

Second-hand smoke
Smoking causes lung cancer

Who is endangered by second-hand smoke?

Second-hand smoke is a Class A carcinogen and there is no safe level for second-hand smoke exposure. This implies that any exposure increases one’s risk.

Children are particularly vulnerable because they are small and they tend to breathe more. Their higher breathing rate exposes them to a more concentrated dose of the toxins present in cigarette smoke.

Adults that are exposed are at a higher risk for developing other diseases, especially heart diseases and lung cancer.

Does the secondhand vapour from electronic cigarettes pose the same risk as conventional cigarettes?

Generally, vaping products have lower levels of toxins than conventional cigarettes. Unlike conventional cigarettes, electronic cigarettes do not burn nicotine products. Instead, they raise the temperature of the liquid they contain such that nicotine is converted into gas. The gas is then inhaled by the smoker. The vapour from electronic cigarettes are still unsafe. However, they contain fewer toxins.

What happens if you reduce your exposure to second-hand smoke?

Your risk of developing lung cancer or heart disease begins to diminish as soon as you stop smoking or avoid any exposure to second-hand smoke. It takes time to heal from the damage done by the toxins to the lungs. Studies show that the risks of lung cancer begin to approach that of a non-smoker after 5 years of quitting cigarette smoking.

Ensure your environment is smoke-free

A word from HealthFacts to you

It is never too late to reduce your exposure to cigarette toxins, either as a firsthand or second-hand smoker. The simplest thing to do to minimize your risks and exposure is to make your home and personal space smoke-free. No amount of secondhand smoke is safe.

Suggested Smoking: Electronic Cigarettes: A Therapy for Tobacco Smoking