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World No Tobacco Day 2018, why passive smoking is dangerous even if you don’t smoke

World No Tobacco Day 2018: Passive smoking is as harmful as smoking, say health experts. Second hand smoke puts you at risk of respiratory diseases, cancer of the lungs, and heart issues among a number of other health problems.

health Updated: May 31, 2018 16:32 IST
Kabir Bhandari
Kabir Bhandari
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
World No Tobacco Day,World No Tobacco Day 2018,No Tobacco Day
World No Tobacco Day 2018: Tobacco smoke is composed of nearly 4,000 different chemicals and over 150 toxins.(Shutterstock)

Every year, May 31 is observed as World No Tobacco Day and the World Health Organisation (WHO) and others help spread awareness about the health and other risks associated with tobacco use.

Lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma are just some of the diseases which smokers are at risk of developing. But it’s not only the smokers who are at risk.

Even if you don’t smoke, you might be at risk of respiratory diseases and cancer of the lungs, all thanks to passive smoking. More worrying is how second hand smoke could cause sudden death in infants.

But what is passive smoking?

Inhaling smoke that has been breathed out by a smoker and smoke from the burning end of cigarettes, cigars and pipes is known as passive smoking.

“Tobacco smoke is composed of nearly 4,000 different chemicals and over 150 toxins including carbon monoxide which can be lethal in long-term exposure. Over 38% of children between the ages of two months to five years are exposed to passive smoking at home,” says Dr. K.S. Kirushnakumar, a senior consultant and the head of the radiation oncology department in Meenakshi Mission Hospital in Madurai.

Children of smoking mothers may have more chance of chronic cough, wheeze, ear infections and other respiratory symptoms. (Shutterstock)

Exposure to any environment where people are smoking tobacco and inhaling the smoke can potentially affect a passive smoker. Lung cancer, coughing and wheezing, asthma, sore throats and colds, eye irritation and hoarseness are widely caused by passive smoking.

“A smoker’s wife, children or anybody in the room or surroundings inhale the second hand smoke released by the smoker. This is how passive smoking occurs. Passive smoking causes more chance of heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer in wives of smokers,” says Dr. P.T. James, HOD, Pulmonary Medicine, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Kochi.

And the news is even worse for children.

“Children of smoking mothers may have more chance of chronic cough, wheeze, ear infections and other respiratory symptoms. Sudden infant death syndrome is another condition reported in infants of smoking mothers,” explains Dr James.

But how does one limit their exposure to passive smoking?

“The effects of passive smoking can be avoided by limiting exposure to people who smoke. Strict laws to provide smoke-free areas in workplaces and outdoors/ public places can also be helpful in the prevention of passive smoking,” says Dr. Kirushnakumar.

Are you looking for some inspiration to quit smoking? (Shutterstock)

Dr. James advises that smokers should be motivated to kick the habit. He also advises that one should visit non smoking restaurants, although your friends might not agree so easily to that suggestion!

Children also play a big role and can tell elders in the house to stop smoking. Easier said than done? The most effective way of doing this is by telling them “Your smoking is injurious to our health too.”

So are you looking for some inspiration to quit smoking? Take Anurag Kashyap for example. The film director shared an Instagram post on May 15 talking about how it had been 40 days since he had quit smoking. He talked about how not smoking has been beneficial to him and how he has lost weight, even though he is eating much more.

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First Published: May 31, 2018 08:38 IST