Second hand smoke

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Second hand smoke entails the involuntarily inhaling of smoke given off from burning cigarettes or cigars or that which is exhaled by smokers. Second hand smoke is also referred to as environmental tobacco smoke or passive smoke and it can cause detrimental health effects ranging from cancer to respiratory infections and asthma. The Environmental Protection Agency warns that second hand smoke can cause cancer in human beings. Exposure to second hand smoke causes diseases to those who do not smoke and it can cause premature death of both adults and children exposed to it.

The smoke consist carcinogenic chemicals which are responsible for cancers. The toxic chemicals include hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde, benzene and vinyl chloride. According to California Environmental Protection Agency report on 2005 second hand smoke was responsible for approximately 3400 deaths due to lung cancer. It also caused deaths due to heart diseases to a tune of 46,000. Places where second hand smoke is more prevalent include restaurants, bars and areas where smoking in public is not prohibited.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2002, made it clear that there is sufficient evidences that passive smoking has carcinogenic to human beings. Passive smoking ensures that one consumes more than 100 harmful or toxic chemicals with each breath. Out of the 100 chemicals are 69 carcinogens which can cause cancer to human beings. Carcinogens produced by passive smoking are more concentrated because they are produced at lower temperatures and thus there is incomplete combustion of tobacco.

Smoking should be prohibited in the work place and there is a strong correlation between absenteeism and smoking in the work place. In areas where smoking is not tolerated in the work pace the productivity levels are higher. Although most states prohibit smoking due to the detrimental effects it has on both the smokes and the non smokers the laws are yet to be effectively implemented. (Halpern et al, 223) Second hand smoke can cause harmful effects especially to young children. It is responsible for numerous respiratory infections in infant and children below 11/2 years.

It also causes sudden infant syndrome death in infants. Although exposure to second hand smoke is dangerous for everyone, fetuses, infants and children are at higher risks as their brain and lungs development can be adversely affected. Smoking during pregnancy is associated with deformities like cleft clips but this need to be researched on. Smoking affects mother’s milk production and children born by smoking women tend to be under weight. Exposure to second hand smoke decreases children’s lung efficiency and impairs its functioning. It also increases ear infections in children.

The inhaled smoke affects the Eustachian tube causing swelling and obstruction which interferes with equalization of pressure equalization in the middle ear causing to a lot of pain fluid and infection in the ears. Children born of smoking mothers are likely to be hyperactive, academic performance and intellectual achievement could also be negatively affected. Other effects of second hand smoke are build up fluid in the ears and this leads to numerous visits to physicians. Numerous visits to physicians which translate to added costs. Exposure to second hand smoke can result to more complications to asthmatic children.

Parents who smoke or allow their visitors to smoke put their children in great health risk. Both long term and short term exposure to second hand smoke have dangerous effects to human health. Short term exposure increases the risks of heart vessels while decreasing the coronary flow velocity reserves and reduces the heart rate variability. Dissemination of information regarding the effect of passive smoking has been done both by independent and international organizations. Such organizations have associated other effects like stroke, low birth weight as well as spontaneous abortions to passive smoking.

It is also casually associated with negative effects on people’s mental faculties and behavior in children as well as cervical cancer. The US Surgeon General Report, a scientific body established that passive smoking causes acute cardiovascular effects as well as adverse respiratory outcomes in children. It also established that passive smoking caused lung cancer and a sure way to protect the non smokers was to ban smoking indoors. There is overwhelming evidence from medical field and other scientific studies show clearly that there are linkages between exposure to passive smoke and health effects.

Passive smoking also causes nasal sinus cancer, bronchitis, exacerbation of cystic fibrosis and breast cancer. Non active and active smokers suffer the same psychological effects. The endothelium cell linings are impaired for both after exposure of smoke. Research affiliated with the department of medicine in New Zealand established a relationship between passive smoking or second hand smoke and stroke. They found that exposure to second hand smoke was a risk to acute stroke both for men and women. Second hand smoke is the third known cause of lung cancer after active smoking and exposure to indoor radon gas.

Lung cancer is responsible for many premature deaths. More women succumb to lung cancer than to breast cancer. (Bonita et al, 158) A review by the monographs program of IARC in 2002 which was composed of 29 experts from more than 10 countries established that second hand smoke was carcinogenic in nature and would cause lung cancer. It conducted more than 50 international studies for over 25 years to come to the conclusions it made. People can be exposed to second hand smoke from their spouse or in their work places. Scientific researchers vary as to the link of second hand smoke to breast cancer.

Some argue that the evidence in support for a positive link is inconsistent while the opponents argue that such effects occur to women at premenopausal ages. The American Journal of Epidemiology in 2002 showed evidence that non smoking women who were exposed to second hand smoke are at a higher risk of getting breast cancer while women who smoke or are exposed to second hand smoke are at greatest at risk of acquiring breast cancer. (Kropp et al, 620) Researchers have been able to find significant levels of nicotine in infants who had died of SIDS.

Parents who smoke increase the risks of (SIDS) pregnant women should not smoke and neither should their partners or spouses. They should not allow smoking in their households. Smoking should be banned in public places as well as in the workplace. Tobacco companies tend to hide the real story about smoking especially the effects so that their products keep moving. They target the young people and use the media to create an impression that smoking is fashionable and modern. Despite the evidence of the detrimental effects of smoking such industries are still operational. Samet et al, 1742) Children exposed to second hand smoke risk getting pneumonia bronchitis and severe colds. Such exposures slow the growth and development of their lungs which may cause them to cough persistently and they may feel breathless. Complete or total ban on smoking would work to ensure that exposure to second hand smoke was minimal. It should be eliminated at all places be they indoors, work places or public places. States and local government should work to ensure that passed laws are enacted to prohibit smoking.

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