Monday, 25 February 2013

"BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE" - SECOND HAND SMOKE

  "BLOW SOME MY WAY"

     Chesterfield Cigarettes, 1926

The US Environmental Protection Agency has classed second-hand smoke as a "Group A" carcinogen.  Group A carcinogens are the most toxic substances which are known to cause cancer.  Scientific studies also show that if you are surrounded by second-hand smoke on a regular basis, your exposure increases the risk of heart and blood vessel disease by 20-30% and stroke by 80%. Second-hand smoke is an amalgamation of poisonous gases, liquids, and breathable particles, and is a major source of indoor air pollution. Even spending as little as 8-20 minutes in a second-hand smoke atmosphere can cause physical symptoms associated with heart disease and stroke. The heart rate increases (the blood vessels constrict which raises the blood pressure forcing the heart to work harder to receive its necessary blood supply), and the oxygen supply to the heart decreases. Second-hand smoke consists of “mainstream smoke” (15%) which is exhaled by the person smoking, and “side-stream smoke” (85%) which is the smoke released straight from the end of a burning cigarette. Two-thirds of the smoke from a burning cigarette is not actually inhaled by the smoker – it is sent into the air for others to inhale. Side-stream smoke is generated at higher temperatures and in different circumstances to mainstream smoke, and includes higher concentrations of countless toxins found in first-hand inhaled cigarette smoke. Smoke which is exhaled by the smoker not only contains the same perilous contaminants as inhaled mainstream smoke, but the particles of exhaled smoke are in fact smaller, so they are able to migrate to distant regions in the lungs and do serious damage. The US Department of Health and Human Services has reported that second-hand smoke can contain twice as much nicotine and tar as smoke inhaled by smokers, and five times the level of carbon monoxide. Experiments with lasers and imaging techniques have demonstrated that the smoke stream from a cigarette is only a small part of a far bigger cloud that is generated. Pipe smoke is classed as toxic and cigars produce an average of 30 times as much carbon monoxide as a cigarette - a fact seldom known by most people.

 

“A CIGARETTE RECOGNISED BY EMINENT MEDICAL AUTHORITIES FOR ITS ADVANTAGES TO THE NOSE AND THROAT”
 Philip Morris, 1939

The US National Toxicology Program estimates that from the 4,000 or more chemical substances, at least 250 chemicals in second-hand smoke are either toxic or cancer-causing. Second-hand smoke may well lead to disease and premature death in some children and adults. Ironically, as far back as 1928 a German scientist put forward the idea that lung cancer among non-smoking women could be created by the inhalation of their husbands' smoke. And in 1939 Germany published scientific reports stating that “passive smoking” (a term coined in Germany in 1936), posed a serious threat to health. However, it was not until 1972 that the Surgeon General’s Report stated that the level of carbon monoxide reached in experiments using rooms filled with tobacco smoke were shown to equal, and on occasions exceed, the legal requirements pertaining to maximum air pollution limits. Second-hand smoke is mostly invisible and is full of poisonous gases and chemicals. In some cases, depending on the severity of exposure and number of years, the risk from passive smoking could even be the same as actually smoking a small number of cigarettes each day. The chemicals in second-hand smoke can aggravate and damage the airways, and even short exposure to second-hand smoke has a “Clear and Present Danger” and a destructive immediate impact.  Sometimes you can not even see it as 85% of second-hand smoke is made of invisible gases. It can interfere with the normal functioning of the heart, blood and vascular systems. In an atmosphere full of second-hand smoke the blood platelets can become stickier, damaging the blood vessel lining, lowering coronary flow velocity reserves, and dropping heart rate variability. It is imperative that people suffering from heart disease avoid even limited exposure to second-hand smoke, which in their case is classed as “high risk”.

 

THE FACTS

Second-hand smoke reduces lung function and can cause: breathing difficulties, an asthma attack, irregular heart-beat, coughing, headache, sore throat, eye irritation, middle ear infection, runny nose, sneezing, and nausea. 

 

LONG TERM EFFECTS

Prolonged and repeated exposure to second-hand smoke raises a non-smoker’s chance of heart disease, and increases the risk of lung cancer. It also exacerbates the symptoms of people who are already suffering with chest problems and allergies like asthma, hay fever, emphysema and bronchitis. According to the US National Institute of Drug Abuse, the risk of developing heart disease increases by 25-30%, and the risk of developing lung cancer increases by 20-30%. According to the California Environment Protection Agency, second hand smoke is responsible for at least 3,400 lung cancer deaths each year, and in excess of 46,000 cardiovascular deaths, along with hundreds of thousands of asthma episodes. 

 

PREGNANCY, BABIES, AND CHILDREN WHO ARE GROWING UP

Women who are pregnant can pass on the dangerous gases and chemicals to their babies. Nicotine collects in the blood of the fetus, amniotic fluid and breast milk. (As nicotine easily crosses the placenta, concentrations in the fetus can be as much as 15% higher than standard maternal levels). The amount of oxygen that is channelled to the unborn baby through the placenta is also lowered. And mothers, who are subject to second-hand smoke whilst pregnant, are more susceptible to give birth to an underweight baby. This is catastrophic, as it makes the baby weak and vulnerable to numerous health problems. Unborn babies whose mothers’ smoke, and babies who are exposed to second-hand smoke  after birth, have weaker lungs than babies who have not been exposed.

 

VICTIMS

Apart from wanting to quit so that you will be around to see your children grow up, and to witness all the wondrous things you hope for them; after cessation your children will no longer suffer the perils of living in a smoke-filled home, ride in a smoke-filled car, and receive carcinogens from you. Children are so susceptible to poisonous clouds of second-hand smoke, that they become imprisoned between a “Rock and a Hard Place” without escape. These children have higher levels than normal of “cotinine” which is a biological marker of second-hand smoke exposure. Their bodies are still growing, and they have higher breathing rates than adults. Developing lungs in young children are gravely affected by environmental smoke, even to the point of slower lung growth. When a small child has a heavy smoker for a mother, that child runs the highest relative possibility of contracting harmful health problems.  A review by the Board of Science at the British Medical Council concluded that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke for children.Parents are usually the strongest role models in the lives of their children, and a parent who is or was a smoker can have a very strong psychological effect. According to the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, teenagers who smoke are more inclined to go on to use prohibited drugs, and to take up drinking alcohol. By setting a good example yourself, and making children aware of the dangers of cigarettes, you could be stopping them from falling into the trap countless thousands of adolescents find themselves in every day when they inhale their first cigarette. It is also important to train them to avoid second-hand smoke. 

 

THE CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR ACTIONS

Second-hand smoke raises the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Second-hand smoke makes babies more likely to need hospital care in their first year of life. Second-hand smoke subjects children to more chest infections. Second-hand smoke can trigger asthma in children. For those who already have asthma, it can make it more severe. Second-hand smoke can raise the risk of developing middle ear infections, and heightens the need for an ear drainage operation. Second-hand smoke increases the risk of lower respiratory track infections including pneumonia and bronchitis when children under the age of 6 are habitually exposed.  Second-hand smoke causes coughing, wheezing, phlegm and breathlessness. Second-hand smoke could have a link with meningitis. Second-hand smoke can force children to be home sick from school more often. When a smoker becomes pregnant it is vital for the mother to quit immediately. And if the husband or partner smokes, the same should apply. If this can remain permanent it will be so beneficial when the baby is born and when the child is growing up. Having a new member of the family is a tremendous motivator to quit which will ensure optimum health for the baby, and give you a chance to improve your own life. If you are a woman who is planning to be a mother some time later on – consider the fact that as a smoker you are slowly and accumulatively deteriorating every cell in your body – a body that will act as a reproductive mold for your sons and daughter.  Many women only stop for a period of the pregnancy and then resume afterwards - in which case the baby is sharing the habit. – This could be just the start of what could turn into an innocent child’s lifelong addiction.


In order to bring home your guilt, put photos of your children next to all your ashtrays in the house until you have reached the “Quit Zero Zone” in the “Winning Way to Quit Smoking” when you will be throwing them away. What you should do now, however, is to remove your car ashtray and lighter, which will help stop both yourself and others.While you are gradually cutting down, make sure you always smoke outside. And if you have any friends or family there who smoke, ask them to do the same. Even if you smoke in one particular room with the window open, it still puts your children at risk. Make sure you no longer smoke in the car, or subject your children to sitting inside when a person is smoking. Whenever you are in public places ensure you always take them to a non-smoking zone. And if you employ a babysitter or child minder, be sure to ban smoking. 

               

FURRY FRIENDS                  

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts have brought the public’s attention to the evidence that animals are also affected by second-hand smoke. Pets of all ages, breeds and sizes suffer - and naturally, smaller animals as well as the very young and old are at the most risk. – Knowing that animals have a far sharper sense of smell than us, should make us realise just how the poor innocent creatures must feel when they are sharing a home with smokers.According to research, dogs have a 60% risk of contracting lung cancer, and long-nosed dogs such as greyhounds are twice as likely to develop cancer of the nose. Cats are several times more inclined to develop feline lymphoma when they live with one smoker, and if there is more than one this risk escalates. Also, a cat’s long hair can constantly trap smoke particles which means that when cats groom themselves they inhale the carcinogens and chemicals. – This can result in lymphoma of the nasal passages, chest and intestines.  As you can imagine, an animal’s eyes and throat - which has a short oesophagus, are easily irritated; and their tiny lungs can be affected.

 

AIR CONDITIONING AND HEATING VENTILLATION

Fortunately, in some countries, public buildings and places of work are being forced to follow laws on a clean air environment; this however, leaves many other countries that do not conform to this basic human right. What most people do not realise, is that both air conditioning and heating ventilation systems are able to distribute second-hand smoke around a building. And conventional air cleaning systems only remove large particles, leaving behind the small elements or gases from second-hand smoke. Now that you are starting on your protocol, second-hand smoke avoidance is high on the list. The highest risk group are the partners of smokers and their children. – If you live with a smoker ask them to smoke outside, or if that really is not practical, then next to a large open window. Always keep the windows of your home open, and invest in a Hepa air cleaner, not an electrostatic air filter which is not effective. If you are a victim of second-hand smoke in the workplace, ask your employer to implement a smoke-free zone. Whenever you go out, be sure to head for the non-smoking section of the bar or restaurant, hotel or leisure centre, train or coach. Do not take a taxi or car ride with someone who is smoking – smoke is more concentrated in confined spaces. – This “concentration factor” is something to always bear in mind, as it is extremely harmful.  Above all, be conscious of the proven fact that second-hand smoke kills non-smokers - so consider your loved ones, the general public, and your pets while you are still cutting-down.Now think of the negative double whammy you are scoring for yourself while you are still smoking in smokers’ zones, even when you are between cigarettes you are also “Between a Rock and a Hard Place”! 

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For further information on the very serious effects of second hans smoke, visit:
http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/secondhand_smoke/general_facts/index.htm

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