Second Hand Smoke Makes Smokers of Us All


Most of the people in the world are smokers whether they know or not. Even people who haven’t smoked in their life may have undergone passive smoking.  Passive smoking (also known as second-hand smoking) refers to the process of inhalation of tobacco smoke due to burning of tobacco products by others.

 “An hour a day in a room with a smoker is nearly a hundred times more likely to cause lung cancer in a non-smoker than twenty years spent in a building containing asbestos.”  – Sir Richard Doll, 1985

Health Effects

A passive smoker is affected by as many health problems as an active smoker. Passive smoking can cause cancer, low birth weight, nasal irritation, stroke, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and even sudden death in case of children.

Burning of tobacco products is said to generate a smoke containing more than 4000 chemicals which include carcinogens and toxic chemicals such as Carbon Monoxide, DDT, Naphthalene, Cadmium, etc.

Children and Smoking

  • If a pregnant mother is exposed to smoke for longer periods of time, it may affect the growth of the child in the womb.
  • The chance of getting lung cancer and heart disease is increased for children who are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke than other children.
  • Children may also be attacked by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), mental disorders, pneumonia, wheezing, bronchitis and other respiratory related problems.
  • Nasal irritation, eye and ear infections are some of the minor problems associated with long exposure to tobacco smoke.
  • Children may get accustomed to the odor and flavor of the tobacco smoke and are more likely to become active smokers.

Third-hand Smoke

Some of the chemicals contained in the tobacco smoke tend to form a toxic coat on the surfaces of things. Thus the things in the smoker’s room are contaminated with these chemicals even after the smoke has been quenched. The health of the person who comes in contact with these things may be affected by hazardous effects of smoking without actually smoking.

The a child who lives with smokers is not only disturbed by frequently seeing a person smoke, but also due to second-hand and third-hand smoking.

Segregation of smoking areas

Splitting public areas into smoking and non-smoking areas may look like a good solution. But it does not give complete relief because even if the doors between the two areas are closed or there is no direct connection between the areas, the smoke can spread into the non-smoking areas. Though it is very difficult to escape Passive Smoking, we can eliminate it by getting rid of active smoking.

If you engage in the habit of smoking, please consider the negative impact you are making on the people around you.



World Health Organization Website


*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.

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