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Second-hand Smoke
What is second-hand smoke?
second hand smoke

Second-hand smoke is a mixture of smoke that is given off by the burning of a pipe, cigar or cigarette and smoke that is exhaled by smokers. Second-hand smoke contains more than 4,000 substances, some of which are well known for causing cancer in both humans and animals.

People may be exposed to second-hand smoke in cars, homes, public places such as bars, the workplace and recreational settings and restaurants. The amount of smoke that is created by tobacco products depend on the amount of tobacco that is available for burning.

Serious Health Risks and Dangers to Children

Children are vulnerable to effects caused by second-hand smoke since they are still in the procedure of developing physically; have a higher breathing rate than adults and also have less control over their indoor environments. Children who are exposed to high volumes of second-hand smoke, such as the ones who mothers smoke, run a greater risk of experiencing damaging health effects.

  • Second-hand smoke exposure can cause asthma in children who have not had a history of symptoms.
  • Second-hand smoke exposure increases the risk of sudden death syndrome in infants.
  • Children younger than 6 years old and infants who are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke are at a greater risk of lower respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
  • There is an increased risk of ear infections such as middle ear infections in children who regularly breathe in second-hand smoke.

Health risks to children with asthma:

  • The most chronic disease affecting children is asthma; it affects 1 in 13 children on average.
  • New cases of asthma in children who have no history of symptoms are caused by an exposure to second-hand smoke.
  • Second-hand smoke also triggers asthma attacks and makes the asthma symptoms more severe.

Cancer regarding Secondhand Smoke

Inhalers of secondhand smoke have a higher risk of getting lung cancer in non-smoking adults. Approximately 3 000 deaths caused by lung cancer occur each year among adult non-smokers as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke. It is estimated by the USA Surgeon General that living with a smoker increases chances of non-smokers developing lung cancer by 20% to 30%.

Other research shows that there is a possibility that secondhand smoke can increase the danger of breast cancer, nasopharyngeal cancer in the nasal sinus cavity in adults, and there is a risk of brain tumours, leukemia and lymphoma in children.

Secondhand smoke causes SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)

SIDS means the sudden, unexpected and unexplained death of an infant within the first year of life. SIDS is the leading causes of death among infants.

  • Women who smoke during pregnancy increases the risk for SIDS.
  • Secondhand smoke exposure to infants after birth is also a greater risk for SIDS.
  • Secondhand smoke chemicals appear to affect mostly the brain in a way that it interferes with the regulation of an infants’ breathing ability.


Parents may help to protect their children from secondhand smoke by doing the following:

  • Prevent anyone from smoking near your children.
  • Opening a window in a car or home while smoking, does not protect your children.
  • Use a smoke free day care centre.
  • Parents should avoid taking their children to restaurants or other public indoor places where they allow smoking.











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