Without going into the debate on this issue in detail, it appears that regular inhalation of secondhand cigarette smoke can be harmful. However, after a couple decades of studies that seemed to call out secondhand smoke for being just about as bad as the stuff smokers actually inhale directly, new information began casting doubt on the dangers.
Because frankly a lot of the evidence on secondhand smoke looks to have been ginned up by activists intent on banning smoking in all public places, including privately-owned establishments like bars and restaurants. A recent story by Jacob Grier specifically detailed how University of California-San Francisco cardiology prof-turned-anti-smoking zealot Stanton Glantz exaggerated the effects of a smoking ban on heart attacks caused by secondhand smoke in Helena, Montana (the so-called “Helena Miracle” study).
Many of the secondhand smoke studies look a lot like some of the terrible vaping studies: thinly disguised calls for banning something the researchers (or their patrons) don’t like. “The strongest reason to avoid passive cigarette smoke is to change societal behavior: to not live in a society where smoking is a norm,” Northwestern University’s Dr. Jyoti Patel told Forbes. The Glantzes of the world call it “denormalization.” They can’t get enough of it.
Hey, I’m not here to defend smoking. It’s bad for you and I wish people wouldn’t do it. But it’s useful to note that the same people who claim secondhand smoke is a health crisis of gargantuan proportions are also involved in the fear mongering about so-called secondhand e-cig vapor — or, as they like to say to confuse the issue, “vape smoke” or “vapor smoke.” Because they fear that vaping will “re-normalize” smoking.
Passive smoking: protect your family and friends
When friends and family breathe in your secondhand smoke – what we call passive smoking – it isn’t just unpleasant for them, it can damage their health too.
People who breathe in secondhand smoke regularly are more likely to get the same diseases as smokers, including lung cancer and heart disease.
Pregnant women exposed to passive smoke are more prone to premature birth and their baby is more at risk of low birth-weight and cot death.
And children who live in a smoky house are at higher risk of breathing problems, asthma, and allergies.
How to protect against secondhand smoke
The only way to protect your friends and family from secondhand smoke is to keep the environment around them smoke free.
The best way to do that is to quit smoking completely. If you’re not ready to quit, make every effort to keep your cigarette smoke away from other people and never smoke indoors or in the car.
- always smoke outside
- ask your visitors to smoke outside
- not smoke in the car or allow anyone else to
Take steps NOW to stop smoking.
The risks of passive smoking
Secondhand smoke is a lethal cocktail of more than 4,000 irritants, toxins and cancer-causing substances.
Most secondhand smoke is invisible and odorless, so no matter how careful you think you’re being, people around you still breathe in the harmful poisons.
Opening windows and doors or smoking in another room in the house doesn’t protect people. Smoke can linger in the air for 2 to 3 hours after you’ve finished a cigarette, even with a window open. Also, even if you limit smoking to one room, the smoke will spread to the rest of the house where people will inhale it.
Children and passive smoking
Passive smoking is especially harmful for children as they have less well-developed airways, lungs and immune systems.
Children who live in a household where at least 1 person smokes are more likely to develop:
- chest infections – like pneumonia and bronchitis
- ear infections
- coughs and colds
Children are particularly vulnerable in the family car where secondhand smoke can reach hazardous levels even with the windows open.
To protect children, a new ban on smoking in cars and other vehicles carrying children was introduced in October 2015. It is now against the law to smoke in a private vehicle if there’s a young person under 18 present.