Secondhand Smoking Essay
Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), mostly known as secondhand smoke, is the smoke from a burning cigarette and exhaled by the smoker that unwittingly inhaled by other people. This has always been the case, but the dangers of secondhand smoking were not really known until 1986, when the Surgeon General came out with his report that warned people about “involuntary smoking” and even about the possibility of smoking related diseases in healthy non-smokers who were exposed to secondhand smoke. The health professionals prefer to use the term second hand smoke instead of Environmental Tobacco Smoke because the two terms have highly differing definitions. ETS is used more as a definition of the way the environment reacts to the presence of tobacco smoke rather than the relationship of the smoke to the human health component.There are 2 types of second hand smoke that each individual is exposed to. The smoke that emanates from the lit tip of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar is known as Side Stream Smoke. While the smoke blown by the smoker is known as Main Stream Smoke. Any person unwittingly exposed to the hazards of second hand smoke is termed as an Involuntary Smoker. As such, his body is exposed to and made to absorb the carcinogenic chemicals the same way the willing smokers do. This is why both smokers and non-smokers are at equal risk of developing a one of the many cancers that can be activated by the carcinogens in the cigarette.Something that most people exposed to second hand smoke do not realize is that second hand smoke exposes the non-smoker to 4000 or more various chemical mixes. At least 60 of these chemical components are well known carcinogens. Whether they realize it or not, primary smokers expose everyone around them to all the carcinogenic hazards stemming from mainstream and side stream smoke. In 2002, the International Agency for Research on Cancer conducted a monograph regarding tobacco and second hand smoke. The agency came to the conclusion that second hand smoke can cause lung cancer in non smokers if the exposure to the smoke stream remains constant. Studies have proven that a smoker only inhales 15% of the smoke he puffs. A dangerously high 85% of the remaining smoke is diffused and absorbed by the environmental air causing it to be inhaled by the non- smokers. The report further states that:There is sufficient evidence that involuntary smoking (exposure to second-hand or ‘environmental’ tobacco smoke) causes lung cancer in humans” and makes the overall evaluation that “Involuntary smoking (exposure to secondhand or ‘environmental’ tobacco smoke) is carcinogenic to humans.Truly, secondhand smoke is a health risk and it can lead to lung cancer, sinus cancer, cervical, breast, and bladder cancer. Still, even if secondhand smoke does not lead to serious incurable diseases, it often leads to general health problems for both adults and children.Surveys have shown that as of June 2007, second hand smoking has been the cause of death for approximately 3,400 lung cancer and 46,000 heart disease patients yearly in the United States. Such a high rate of deaths stems from the increased level of second hand smoke in the places frequented by adults for social gatherings. A person who regularly goes to restaurants and bars is exposed to a smoke level 5 times higher than in their homes and offices. For married couples, the statistics are even more staggering. There is an estimated 35,000 non smokers deaths in households where one spouse is a non smoker. Lung cancer is usually diagnosed in about 3.400 adult patients. The list of recurring illnesses in people constantly exposed to second hand smoke lists like ordinary, negligible illnesses that should clear up on it’s own. Coughing, phlegm, chest discomfort and weak lungs, are only a partial listing of illnesses that beset adult non smokers.The most innocent victims of second hand smoke are the children. Mothers who constantly expose the unborn fetus to second hand smoke risk giving birth to low birth weight babies. It is estimated that about 67% of babies are born into a household with at least one smoker in the family. The exposure may also cause complications and health hazards in the development of an unborn child’s lungs and brain. A child’s exposure to second hand smoke also increases the risk of developing childhood asthma. Children who are prone to sinusitis and chronic respiratory problems (e.g. coughing and post nasal drip) will find that exposure to the smoke also causes chronic colds and coughing. The Environmental Protection Agency conducted a study in 1992 that confirms that exposure to second hand smoke causes lower respiratory tract infections in about 300,000 children ages 18 months and below.Although there has been no formal research as to whether cigarette odors can cause cancer, what has been proven is that the smoke sticks to anything and everything that lies in its path. The smell of the second hand smoke sticks to hair, clothes, and other surfaces. It is therefore believed that any cancer causing effects from such exposures will be highly minimal. Furthermore, research in this area has shown that even exposure to small amounts of secondhand smoke is harmful to health and elimination of secondhand smoke from all indoor spaces is necessary to assure a healthy environment. In fact, creating spaces for smokers, and separating smokers from non-smokers is a smart way to deal with secondhand smoke. It is something that the government has been able to institute and much progress has been made in this area. Today it is common to see “no smoking signs” in all public spaces, including, airports, hospitals, schools, office buildings, and other public institutions. Proper ventilation of pubic spaces is another way to insure that everyone is protected from a hazardous breathing environment. Clearly, on an individual basis people can insure themselves and their families by eliminating secondhand smoke from their homes and cars.Of course, eradicating smoking from society is not easy, especially because it is such a big business. However, through education, and gentle, and not so gentle persuasion it is up to society to encourage the smokers to quit and the non-smokers to never pick up the habit. If we don’t turn a blind eye to an obvious problem it may save someone’s life in the long run. It is imperative that there is education in the schools that emphasizes the damaging effects of smoking on people. Once people are aware of statistics about smoking and know the real story, they may think twice about picking up this bad habit.There are ways and means to avoid exposure to second hand smoke if one is really determined to quit smoking or limit his, her , or family exposure to the carcinogenic elements in the air they breath. For starters, a person who is still smoking can choose to stop smoking. There was various ways and means available to quit smoking such as a nicotine patch of nicotine gum to help ease the toxin out of the body. When dealing with household companions who smoke, you must talk to them and convince them of the ill effects of smoking on both the smoker and non smokers. If they won’t listen to reason, the non smoker should demand that the smoking take place away from the person, if possible, outside of the home. Make the car a non smoking area and make sure that exposure to areas that have high second hand smoke content is limited or totally eliminated.In conclusion, I would like to mention that according to the American Lung Association, the move to ban smoking in public places in order to limit the public exposure to second hand smoke has begun to pick up steam in at least 15 states in the country. The ALA report indicates that:Fifteen states – Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Washington and Vermont – as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico prohibit smoking in almost all public places and workplaces, including restaurants and bars. Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon and Utah have passed legislation prohibiting smoking in almost all public places and workplaces, including restaurants and bars, but the laws have not taken full effect yetWork Cited“Children and Second Hand Smoke”. American Academy of Pediatric Otolaryngology . 2007. 31 July 2007. <http://www.entnet.org/healthinfo/tobacco/secondhand_smoke.cfm>.“Second Hand Smoke “.American Cancer Society. 2007. 29 July 2007. <http://www.cancer.org/docroot/PED/content/PED_10_2X_Secondhand_Smoke-Clean_Indoor_Air.asp>.“Second Hand Smoke”. Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco. 2007. 30 July 2007. <http://www.ocat.org/healtheffects/index.html>.“Second hand Smoke Fact Sheet”. American Lung Association . June 2007. 31 July 2007. <http://www.lungusa.org/site/pp.asp?c=dvLUK9O0E&b=35422>.“The Effects of Second Hand Smoke”. essortment . 2002. 30 July 2007. <http://mo.essortment.com/secondhandsmok_rxgs.htm>.