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Passive Smoking

Passive Smoking is second hand smoking - breathing in others "used up" smoke.

Secondhand tobacco smoke poisons hide in household dust and on furniture and other surfaces like curtains, clothing which can expose adults and children to levels of poison that are equivalent to several hours of active smoking. When you smoke, it isnít only your own health youíre putting at risk, it is also others around you who are affected.

What is passive smoking?
Passive smoking occurs when anyone (including the smoker) inhales tobacco smoke from the environment, as opposed to directly inhaling from a cigarette

This environmental or Ďsecond-handí smoke comprises two parts:

Smokers only inhale about 15% of the smoke from a cigarette. The rest enters the atmosphere.

How dangerous is passive smoking?

Second-hand smoke contains all the same carcinogenic toxins and poisons that the smoker inhales, but at even greater levels. Toxins in second-hand smoke aren't filtered. They are side-stream smoke which is formed at lower temperatures and gives off even larger amounts of some harmful substances.

It is estimated that a non-smoker in a smoke-filled room for eight hours will inhale the equivalent amount of carcinogens to smoking 36 cigarettes

Immediate negative effects of second-hand smoke may include:-

Exposure to second-hand smoke and smoking while pregnant are both linked to miscarriage, low birth weight and stillbirths. Children of parents who smoke have a greater chance of dying of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Passive smoking and cancer

Second-hand smoke can cause lung cancer in non-smoking partners of heavy smokers as well as in non-smokers exposed to smoke in the workplace.

Passive smoking and heart disease
30 minutes exposure to passive cigarette smoke is 30 times more harmful to the hearts of non-smokers.
Poisons exhaled by smokers cause
Passive smoking and respiratory problems

Second-hand smoke has also been linked to a number of other respiratory health problems, including pneumonia, sinus infection and impaired lung function.
Children whose parents smoke are more likely to suffer from colds, pneumonia, bronchitis, ear infections, coughing and allergies. If the children already have asthma or allergies, a parent's smoking may cause these conditions to get worse

Passive smoking and Womenís health

A woman who lives with a 20-or-more-a-day smoker has her chance of becoming pregnant lowered by 34%. Conception will be even harder for a woman who smokes and is exposed to passive smoke. Middle-aged men who are heavily exposed to second-hand smoke have nearly twice the risk of not fathering children.

If a woman falls pregnant and she is a smoker, she should stop smoking for the nine months that she is pregnant. Tobacco can have terrible effects on an unborn child:-
Babies born to mothers who smoke get sick more often. They develop more slowly than babies of non-smoking mothers. They may also not do well in school in the early years

Pregnancy and smoking
If a pregnant woman smokes there is a higher risk of:
Protect your child from tobacco smoke

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Copyright © KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health, 2001

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