Is secondhand smoke worse than smoking?
Secondhand smoke is a mixture of the smoke that comes from the burning end of a cigarette, cigar, or pipe, and the smoke breathed out by the smoker. It contains more than 7,000 chemicals. Hundreds of those chemicals are toxic and about 70 can cause cancer. There is no safe amount of secondhand smoke.
Smoking is one of the biggest dangers facing humans nowadays.
Smoking not only harms individuals but their loved ones as well. For example, smoking can harm an unborn child because smoking during pregnancy increases the rate of miscarriages and fetal abnormalities.
Tobacco use causes severe addiction; out of one hundred people that use tobacco, around 85 to 90 percent will become addicted to it.
All tobacco products: cigarettes, cigars, mouassal and hookahs (shisha), contain nicotine which is a substance that causes addiction like cocaine and heroin.
Nicotine in tobacco is the main cause for this addiction in tobacco users.
Nicotine in cigarettes won’t kill you immediately but it increases heart rate and blood pressure. Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,700 harmful chemical substances, 60 of which can cause cancer and have been proven to do so; they are called carcinogens.
One of the remnants of cigarettes is carbon monoxide which is also found in car exhaust. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more people die from smoking than those who die from AIDS, car accidents, drug use and suicide combined.
Make-up of Cigarette:
In 1992, a report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States showed that secondhand smoking is as dangerous as direct smoking. This report classified the dangers of smoking as a type A carcinogen, which is the highest rate of risk of cancer.
Secondhand smoke contains toxic chemicals, including:
- Ammonia, used in cleaning products
- Benzene, found in gasoline
- Cadmium, a toxic metal
- Cyanide, used in chemical weapons
- Formaldehyde, an industrial chemical
Cigarette smoke is classified into two types:
Inhaled smoke and outer smoke.
Inhaled smoke is the smoke that comes out of the smoker’s mouth after being inhaled and is the smoke that went through the filter tip, whereas the outer smoke is the smoke the comes out of the burnt tip of the cigarette into air without going through the filter. The chemical composition of both types is largely the same since both are the result of burning tobacco, but there are some differences in the quantities of the components, as well as other differences. One of them is that the temperature of inhaled smoke is higher than that of the outer smoke since the outer smoke has higher and more concentrated quantities of the organic chemical components compared with inhaled smoke. Studies show the outer smoke is even more dangerous and more carcinogenic.
Harmful Effects of Secondhand Smoking on Humans:
Some studies in heart research centers have proven a strong correlation between secondhand smoking and heart diseases. What occurs with smokers, regarding heart attacks at an early age, can also occur to non-smokers.
Scientifically proven effects of secondhand smoking on lungs include:
- Bronchial allergy and asthma, especially in children
- Chronic coughing and increased secretion of phlegm, continuous chest inflammation and shortness of breath
- Inefficiency of the lungs, where being exposed to cigarette smoke can lead eventually to shortness of breath even with the slightest effort
- The more exposure to smoke, the weaker lung function becomes
Negative Effects of Children Exposed to Secondhand Smoking:
Fetuses exposed to secondhand smoke can be affected by toxins in the pregnant mother’s bloodstream. Children being breastfed can still be affected by the toxins in the mother’s bloodstream
- The effects of secondhand smoke on growing lungs are more dangerous and harmful, as the lungs are not given a chance to grow normally, develop a natural resilience and function properly. These children might suffer from chronic bronchitis, congestion of the lungs, phlegm secretion and continually be affected by chest inflammations. One of the statistics published in the US estimates that secondhand smoking is responsible for 150,000 to 300,000 cases of bronchitis (sepsis) in children under the age of 18, with 15,000 requiring hospital care to treat chest inflammations.
- Children can suffer from chest allergies and inefficient lungs with wheezing during respiration. Some children suffer from chronic coughing.
- Children who already suffer from asthma are also more likely to be prone to complications when exposed to secondhand smoking. There are anywhere between 200,000 to one million children that suffer from asthma. Secondhand smoke is the main reason for complications or healthcare professionals not being able to control this disease in the United States. Also, exposure to secondhand smoke was the main reason some of these children have developed asthma.
Health Consequences Causally Linked to Exposure to Secondhand Smoke
How to protect yourself and your family from secondhand smoke?
- Quit smoking
- Do not allow anyone to smoke anywhere in or near your home.
- Do not allow anyone to smoke in your car, even with the window down.
- Choose smoke-free care facilities.
- Patronize businesses with no smoking policies.
How to Quit Smoking?
- Believe in yourself. Believe that you can quit.
- Decide firmly and willingly to quit smoking and try very hard to avoid negative thoughts.
- Write a list of all the reasons you want to quit smoking (the benefits of quitting): live longer, feel better, for your family, save money.
- Ask your family and friends to support your decision to quit.
- Set a quit date.
- Start prepping yourself physically by exercising regularly, drinking a lot of fluids, get quality sleep and reduce stress in your life.
- Visualize your way to becoming a non-smoker.
Quit smoking during Ramadan: Fasting requires abstinence from smoking as well as eating and drinking during the day. Ramadan provides an ideal opportunity for smokers to quit. Activities during Ramadan such as family visits and prayers can help keep an individual occupied and assist him or her in quitting smoking.
Quitting smoking has various health benefits, especially for diabetics. It can result in improved blood sugar levels and blood circulation, increased insulin reception, decreased cholesterol levels, and decreased complications. Exercising, drinking plenty of water after Iftar and keeping away from other smokers are some steps that people can take to decrease the urge to smoke. Avoiding places such as shisha cafes and other areas frequented by smokers will also help prevent inhalation of secondhand smoke, which is responsible for thousands of heart disease-related deaths every year.
The percentage of smokers in Qatar is estimated to be around 37 per cent of locals and residents. To avoid the harmful effects of smoking and to show the positive outcome of quitting on health, Qatar offers a clinic to fight against smoking. This clinic has been open since 1999 and welcomes locals and residents, providing free preventive and curative services to everyone.
The number of people who visit this clinic is around 700 annually. Many types of treatment and psychological consultations are offered as well as replacements for nicotine and medicine.
You can reach the clinic in many ways either by calling the appointments department directly or by referral from your G.P doctor.
Creating an environment 100% free of tobacco smoke is the only way to protect people from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.
Smoke free Qatar …