Smoking is a harmful human activity that affects not only smokers but also those around them. If you smoke near non-smokers, the people around you are exposed to the hazards of second-hand smoke, a mixture of smoke from burning tobacco and smoke exhaled by the smoker. Secondhand smoke is just as dangerous, if not more so than the smoke that comes directly from smoking a cigarette.
In fact, second-hand smoke, like cigarette smoke, contains more than 4,000 chemicals, and also contains greater amounts of harmful chemicals such as nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide, ammonia, and heavy metals. As a result, people who smoke frequently are at greater risk of heart and lung disease than those who are not exposed.
Children and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. Children are more susceptible to the harmful effects of secondhand smoke because they breathe faster than adults and because their respiratory and immune systems are not yet fully developed. Children are at increased risk for many diseases, including bronchitis, asthma, ear infections, and much more. Secondhand smoke inhaled by pregnant women is also very dangerous for their unborn children. Nicotine entering the mother’s bloodstream can slow the flow of blood to the baby and affect the functioning of the heart, lungs, digestive system, and central nervous system. Stunted growth and low birth weight can also be attributed to the effects of carbon monoxide.
Reduce the health risks of secondhand smoke by making your home, workplace, and car smoke-free. To make this change possible, you need to stop smoking in your office, home and car. Since smoke can easily spread from one room to another and soak into fabrics despite closed doors, this rule must be in effect at all times and in all areas of your home and vehicle. Opening a window or using special fans will not completely eliminate cigarette smoke. Air filtration systems also cannot completely remove all the small components of harmful chemicals in secondhand smoke, both in the form of gases and particles.
Take the following steps to achieve a smoke-free environment for you and your family:
- Make a list of the benefits that this decision will bring. Write down the reasons why your home and car should be smoke-free.
- Publicize your decision. Inform family members of your decision, take their comments into account, and convince those who are uncomfortable with the idea to accept it.
- Make a list of possible challenges. Discuss with family members the possible challenges you might face, and then come up with solutions and strategies together. For example, what should you do if you are trying to quit smoking, but feel a strong urge to smoke?
- Clear out all ashtrays from your workplace, home, and car. Removing these smoking items can serve as a constant reminder not to smoke at home.
- Reserve an area outside the home for smokers. It is important to remember that smoke can still enter your home through doors and clothing, but by smoking outside and away from doors and windows, you reduce the impact of secondhand smoke on the health of your family members.
- Set an implementation date and make a commitment. Pick a date to make your home completely smoke-free.
- All family members should make this commitment together.
- Tell all your guests that your home and your car are smoke-free zones. It is important not to go back on your decision, even with guests who may want to smoke. It may be a good idea to inform them of the family’s decision before they arrive.
NB: There are many government-sponsored smoking cessation programs that anyone needing help could use to kick this harmful habit.