Health Dangers of Smoking for Nonsmokers
Cigarettes do not just harm the people who smoke. They also harm the people who are near cigarettes and breathe the smoke. This includes fetuses (unborn babies still inside their mothers) and small children. They are breathing second hand smoke. Second hand smoke is the smoke that comes out of the lit end of a cigarette and that a smoker exhales (breathes out). Second hand smoke is also called passive smoke, involuntary smoke, and environmental tobacco smoke (ETS).
About 53,000 people die from second hand smoke every year. When we breathe second hand smoke, we are breathing the same 4,000 chemicals a cigarette smoker breathes. 51 of those chemicals cause cancer. That is why a U.S. government agency called the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has labelled cigarettes as a Group A carcinogen. A carcinogen is something that causes cancer. The EPA put cigarettes in the same group with arsenic, which is a deadly poison, and asbestos, a cancer causing material that used to be put around pipes to insulate them.
Source: Centers for Disease Control
In 1986 the Surgeon General of the U.S. wrote about the dangers of second hand smoke. He listed three conclusions:
First: Involuntary smoking is a cause of disease,including lung cancer, in healthy nonsmokers.
Second: The children of parents who smoke compared to children of nonsmoking parents have an increased frequency of respiratory infections, increased respiratory symptoms and slightly smaller rates of increase in lung function as the lung matures.
Third: Simple separation of smokers and non-smokers within the same airspace may reduce, but does not eliminate, exposure of nonsmokers to environmental tobacco smoke.
Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is dirtier than the smoke that is inhaled in a cigarette because it is not filtered. The filter on the end of a cigarette
removes some the harmful chemicals. ETS is the largest source of indoor air pollution. Restaurants that allow smoking can have six times the pollution of a busy highway.
When people breathe ETS or second hand smoke on a regular basis in the workplace, their lungs are affected. Their lungs look as if the people smoked one to 10 cigarettes a day. That means nonsmoking workers in a smoking office have the same lung damage as a mild smoker. They have a 34% higher risk of getting lung cancer than workers who do not smoke or breathe second hand smoke on the job.
Every year second hand smoke causes 3,000 deaths from lung cancer in nonsmokers over 35 years old. These deaths are not just from people breathing
cigarette smoke in the workplace. Second hand smoke increases the risk of lung
cancer even in dogs. It increases the risk of heart disease in human beings by 30%. Every year 37,000 nonsmokers die from heart disease caused by exposure to ETS.