It’s time once again for a Did You Know? segment, this time featuring secondhand smoke information.
Did you know that smoke from a burning cigarette has higher levels of carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) and smaller particles than the smoke that is exhaled by a smoker? These smaller particles can make their way into the lungs more easily. Even if you are a non-smoker, being in a room with a smoker means you are inhaling nicotine and toxic chemicals. In fact, did you know that secondhand smoke is actually classified as a “known human carcinogen” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)? Secondhand smoke has “more than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and about 70 that can cause cancer” according to the CDC.
Did you know that if you smoke in your home, the smoke can travel throughout the house, even if you only smoke in one room? If you live in multi-unit housing, secondhand smoke can travel through the ventilation, electrical outlets, flooring and walls, making non- smoking families come in contact with smoke. Breathing secondhand smoke can increase a child’s chance of developing ear infections, respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and “more severe and frequent asthma attacks.” The poster on the right is from the “It’s quitting time L.A.!” campaign to educate their residents about the seriousness and danger of secondhand smoke in multi-unit housing. And the problem isn’t just confined to Los Angeles. In Florida, 8.9% of middle school and 8.5% of high school students “reported that smoking was allowed inside their homes,” but a much higher number (39% of middle and 44% of high school) said they had been exposed to secondhand smoke in a room or car in the past week, according to the 2013 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey.
And speaking of cars, did you know even if you have all the windows open, the concentrations of secondhand smoke in a vehicle “are greater than in any other small enclosed place?” Researchers at Harvard University found that a car traveling at 40 mph with all the windows open still had an average secondhand smoke level above what is considered unhealthy. If the driver’s side window was opened only slightly, the secondhand smoke levels increased to the hazardous range. Did you know more that 82% of American adults support banning smoking in cars with kids younger than 13 years of age, and 60% of current smokers would also support a ban on smoking in cars carrying children? Seven states currently have bans on smoking in vehicles when children are present in vehicles.
Did you know that secondhand smoke in a room or car not only remains in the air for hours, it also clings to surfaces, such as carpet, walls and furniture, and creates health issues long after the cigarette has been extinguished? Some studies suggest that these particles from secondhand smoke can last for months. Just another reason to make your home and car smokefree.
Did you know you can find more information on secondhand smoke on the web? In fact with all the information out there regarding the dangers of smokehand smoke, it is difficult to understand why anyone would subject family members or members of the public to chemical laden air.