Firsthand and Secondhand Smoke: Equally Deadly
Even if you aren’t a smoker, you may still be at risk for developing lung
cancer from tobacco products. Why? Standing next to a person who is smoking a
cigarette, cigar or pipe could be just as detrimental to your health as smoking
Mainstream and sidestream smoke are produced when a tobacco
product is smoked.
Mainstream smoke is drawn through the cigarette, cigar or pipe into
the mouth, then down the windpipe and into the lungs. Cigarette smoke differs
only slightly from that of cigars and pipes, because of the filters that smoke
passes through theoretically remove some of the tar and nicotine from mainstream
smoke. Upon exhaling smoke from their lungs, the smoker could potentially be
exposing non-smokers near them to mainstream smoke.
Sidestream smoke is the main smoke produced by a burning cigarette,
cigar or pipe—this makes up most of the smoke inhaled by a non-smoker (85% of
smoke from a burning cigarette is sidestream). Because of the lower temperatures
for combustion at the burning end of the cigarette, sidestream smoke is
comprised of more carcinogenic chemicals than mainstream. The visible cloud of
smoke is made up of is made up of particles, and the particles in sidestream
smoke are much smaller than those of mainstream. Because of their tiny size,
these particles stay airborne longer and go deeper into the lungs. Even the
small benefit of the cigarette filter does not apply to sidestream smoke.
- The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified second hand smoke as Group A. This level rating is used only in cases of proven cancer-causing substances.
- Thousands of people die annually from conditions cause by second hand smoke—3,000 lung cancer deaths; 35,000 to 62,000 cardiovascular disease deaths; and 2,300 deaths from SIDS.
- Lung cancer may be only one of the types of cancer caused by smoke—evidence is leading doctors to conclude that smoking may cause breast and liver cancers.
- Severe health complications beset babies with smoking parents—within the first two years of life, these children will have a higher rate of lung diseases such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Even the rate of lung growth for babies exposed to smoke is slower and overall lung function at maturity is impaired. These setbacks in development could lead to increased susceptibility to lung disease as an adult.
- Reduce the Risk of Smoking for Non-Smokers:
Avoid smoking indoors (or in any other enclosed place—like your car, for
- Ask others not to smoke inside your home (i.e. visiting relatives, baby
sitters and other people who care for your children).
- Request that smokers step outside before lighting up.
- If for some reason smoking outside is not an option, have smokers use a
single room to smoke in. Make sure that the door is closed—and it would also
be a good idea to close off any vents that could spread smoke throughout the
house. In this “smoking room, you can mount a window fan to blow the smoke
out of the house.
- Use free-standing
Cleaner Consoles inside “smoking rooms”, and use HEPA quality
Cleaner filters for your HVAC to ensure that the rest of the house
remains as smoke-free as possible. Consider installing an
Oasis In-Duct UV air purifier in duct work to rid the house of residual
odors and fumes.
- Be the one to encourage your smoking friend and family to quit. Check
HelpGuide.org for tips and information to better understand the
addiction aspect of smoking (the more you know, the more you can help those
you care about).