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Also known as environmental tobacco
smoke, second hand smoke is a term used to describe cigarette smoke that
comes from two sources—smoke that is exhaled by the smoker (mainstream
smoke) and smoke produced by a smouldering burning cigarette (side-stream
Second hand smoke is known to contain at
least 250 poisonous chemicals and another 70 cancer-causing chemicals.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, there is no risk-free level of
exposure to second hand smoke. That means if you can smell cigarette
smoke in the air, it could be harming your health.
Just half an hour of
second hand smoke can impair normal blood flow to the heart, a Japanese study suggests.
The study examined the effects of spending 30 minutes in a hospital's smoking room on 15
non smoking men and 15 smokers. The smokers, whose heart arteries already showed damage,
were not affected. But in non-smokers, the result was a reduced ability of heart arteries
to dilate, which previous research has suggested may be a precursor to hardening of the
"This change may be
one reason why passive smoking is a risk factor for cardiac disease" and related
deaths in non-smokers, the researchers said in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical
If exposure continues, "gradually, as
hardening of the arteries sets in, it's irreversible, " he said. The study
"really sort of confirms prior information that we've had about the adverse effects
of second hand smoke," Faxon said.
The study did not examine whether the changes from the one-time exposure to smoke were
permanent. Previous research in smokers has found similar changes that may be reversible
if smokers quit, said Dr. David Faxon, president of the American Heart Association.
In the study, Dr. Ryo Otsuka of Osaka City University Medical School and colleagues used
blood pressure tests and an imaging technique called echocardiography to examine the
effect on heart arteries' ability to dilate. Measurements were taken before and after
exposure to second hand smoke.
The smoke appeared to impair the
functioning of the endothelium, a lining of cells in the arteries that helps regulate
dilation. Scientists believe coronary artery disease may begin when the endothelium
becomes damaged, leaving the arteries prone to blockages or narrowing. Stanton Glantz, a
University of California at San Francisco professor of medicine, said the findings add
fuel to the debate over second hand smoke.
"People walking into a smoky restaurant, do they want to be clobbering the ability of
the arteries in the heart to get blood to the heart, even if it's just for a little
while?" he said.
Seth Moskowitz, spokesman for R.J.
Reynolds Tobacco Co., said the study does not change the company's belief that there is no
scientific evidence establishing that second hand smoke is a risk factor for lung cancer,
heart disease or any other disease in adult non-smokers.
If you are a smoker, you may try not to
think about the chemicals in cigarettes. Poisons, toxic metals,
and carcinogens enter your bloodstream with every puff you take.
Those chemicals affect everything from blood pressure and pulse
rate to the health of your organs and immune system.
Air tainted with cigarette smoke is dangerous for anyone who
breathes it, smoker or not.
Take a closer look at some of the harmful
chemicals in cigarettes and how they affect your health.
A carcinogen is defined as any substance
that can cause or aggravate cancer. Approximately 70 of the
chemicals in cigarettes are known to cause cancer.
Can be found in pesticides and gasoline.
It is present in high levels in cigarette smoke and accounts for
half of all human exposure to this hazardous chemical.
This is a chemical that, in liquid form,
is used to preserve dead bodies. In gaseous form, it is
responsible for some of the nose, throat, and eye irritation
smokers experience when breathing in cigarette smoke.
This is a man-made chemical that is used
to make plastics. Smokers are exposed to it through cigarette
Toxic/heavy metals are metals and metal
compounds that have the potential to harm our health when
absorbed or inhaled. In very small amounts, some of these metals
support life, but when taken in large amounts, they can become
This is commonly used in rat poison.
Arsenic finds its way into cigarette smoke through some of the
pesticides that are used in tobacco farming.
This is a toxic heavy metal that is used
in batteries. Smokers typically have twice as much cadmium in
their bodies as non smokers.
Radioactive Toxic Metals
There are a couple of toxic metals in cigarette smoke that carry an extra
punch of danger for anyone breathing it in because they are radioactive.
Lead-210 (Pb-210) and polonium-210 (Po-210) are poisonous, radioactive
heavy metals that research has shown to be present in cigarette smoke.
Poison is defined as any substance that, when introduced to a living
organism, causes severe physical distress or death. Science has discovered
approximately 250 poisonous gases in cigarette smoke.
are commonly used in cleaning products and fertilizers. Ammonia is also
used to boost the impact of nicotine in manufactured cigarettes.
This is present in car exhaust and is lethal in large
amounts. Cigarette smoke can contain high levels of carbon monoxide.
This was used to kill people in the gas chambers. It
can be found in cigarette smoke.
This is a poison used in pesticides and
is the addictive element in cigarettes.
The Proven Facts on The
Damages of Second hand Smoke
- Second-hand smoke causes disease and death in healthy
- Exposure for as little as 8 to 20 minutes causes physical
reactions linked to heart and stroke disease:
- The heart rate increases
- The heart's oxygen supply decreases
- Blood vessels constrict which increases blood pressure and
makes the heart work harder.
- The health effects on children exposed to second-hand smoke
include Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and breathing problems in children as young as
18 months of age.
- Children exposed to second-hand smoke in their homes are
more likely to suffer breathing problems such as asthma and damage to their lungs.
Children are twice as likely to smoke if their parents are smokers.
- If you are a non-smoker, exposure to second-hand smoke
increases your chance of lung cancer by 25 per cent, heart disease by 10 per cent, and
cancer of the sinuses, brain, breast, uterine, cervix, thyroid, as well as leukemia and
- Although only three in ten people report being exposed to
second-hand smoke, nine in ten people have detectable levels in their bodies. The test
measures exposure that has occurred over the last three days.
- Second-hand smoke is a major source of indoor air pollution,
and the greatest source of air particle pollution.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the
risk of developing cancer from exposure to second-hand smoke is about 57 times greater
than the total risk posed by all outdoor air contaminants regulated under U.S.
- More than three times as many infants die from second-hand
smoke-related Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) as from child abuse or homicide.
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Updated February 2019