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Second Hand Smoke

Secondhand Smoke in Your Home and Around Children

We spend more time in our homes than anywhere else. So the thought of cancer-causing chemicals circulating throughout our houses and apartments can be quite unsettling. Yet, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, that is exactly what happens when someone lights a cigarette in your home.

Those most affected by secondhand smoke are children. Because their bodies are still developing, exposure to the poisons in secondhand smoke puts children in danger of severe respiratory diseases and can hinder the growth of their lungs. On top of that, the effects can last a lifetime.

Ventilation systems in homes cannot filter and circulate air well enough to eliminate secondhand smoke. Blowing smoke away from children, going into another room to smoke, or opening a window may help reduce children's exposure but will not protect them from the dangers of secondhand smoke.

Secondhand Smoke is a Serious Health Risk to Children

  • The developing lungs of young children are affected by exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Infants and young children whose parents smoke are among the most seriously affected by exposure to secondhand smoke, being at increased risk of lower respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis. EPA estimates that passive smoking is responsible for between 150,000 and 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections in infants and children under 18 months of age annually, resulting in between 7,500 and 15,000 hospitalizations each year.
  • Children exposed to secondhand smoke are also more likely to have reduced lung function and symptoms of respiratory irritation like cough, excess phlegm, and wheeze.
  • Passive smoking can lead to buildup of fluid in the middle ear, the most common cause of hospitalization of children for an operation.
  • Asthmatic children are especially at risk. EPA estimates that exposure to secondhand smoke increases the number of episodes and severity of symptoms in hundreds of thousands of asthmatic children. EPA estimates that between 200,000 and 1,000,000 asthmatic children have their condition made worse by exposure to secondhand smoke. Passive smoking may also cause thousands of non-asthmatic children to develop the condition each year.

Other Health Implications

  • Exposure to secondhand smoke causes irritation of the eye, nose, and throat.
  • Passive smoking can also irritate the lungs, leading to coughing, excess phlegm, chest discomfort, and reduced lung function.
  • Secondhand smoke may affect the cardiovascular system, and some studies have linked exposure to secondhand smoke with the onset of chest pain.

Benefits of a Smoke-Free Home

The greatest benefit, of course, is that you will remove all the health risks associated with secondhand tobacco smoke. Plus

  • When your home is smoke-free, it will smell much better.
  • Your food will taste better.
  • You'll spend less time, energy, and money cleaning your curtains, walls, windows, and mirrors.
  • Your insurance rates may be lower-check with your insurance company.
  • Even your pets will be happier. For example, secondhand smoke increases the risk of lung cancer in dogs.

How to Make (and Keep) Your Home Smoke-Free

  • It may feel awkward at first to tell people not to smoke in your home-no one wants to make guests uncomfortable-but if you simply explain the facts about secondhand smoke, they should understand completely. Tell them that for the sake of your family's health, you simply cannot allow smoking in your home. Have gum or mints available as an alternative to lighting up. If visitors absolutely must smoke, tell them they can do so outside.
  • If someone in your household smokes, be sympathetic and understanding-but encourage him or her to quit. Let that person know that cigarette smoke affects everyone, not just the smoker. Let them know you care and you want to help. Again, if someone absolutely must smoke, ask that person to do so outside.

For More Information on Secondhand Smoke and Children:

Available Files to Download
Copyright © 2019 by the Dickinson-Iron District Health Department
818 Pyle Drive, Kingsford, MI 49802 - Phone: 1-906-774-1868
601 Washington Ave, Iron River, MI 49935 - Phone: 1-906-265-9913