While many smokers are aware of the dangers and risks that are presented by their habit, many opt to try and quit smoking once they realize they’re not only hurting themselves but also the people in their surroundings, mostly their loved ones, friends and family members with second-hand smoke.

What’s on this page?

Second-hand smoke is produced both from the burning cigarette’s tip and when the smoker exhales the smoke. Inhaling this kind of smoke is usually referred to as second-hand smoking. It is estimated to contain around 4000 harmful chemicals and around 69 cancer-causing chemicals which can have the same impact on health and body as active smoking, leading to inflammations, increased risk of different types of cancer and coronary heart disease. If the exposure to second-hand smoke is frequent and prolonged, the risks get proportionally higher.

And if you keep in mind the fact that smoke can stay in the air for more than two and a half hours after the cigarette has been put out, you can easily see how your bad habit puts in danger the people around you. Smoking in closed spaces, whether it’s your workplace, your home or car presents a clear and direct danger to anyone else with whom you might share that space. So, if you don’t want to harm other people with your bad habit, you should avoid smoking in enclosed spaces and thus reduce other people’s exposure to second-hand smoke. However, for a truly healthy life, the best possible course of action is quitting smoking for good.

The effects of passive smoking

While the dangers of passive smoking are pretty often overlooked and dismissed, the medical professionals repeatedly warn that passive smoking can be as dangerous as active. The scientific evidence and its implications can be rather shocking for people who aren’t familiar with the severe threat their habit poses to their loved ones. For example, passive smoking is proven to increase the risk of lung cancer in non-smokers, and if the exposure to second-hand smoke is present on a daily basis, that risk can increase up to 30%! What’s more, the effects of passive smoking can lead to increased risk of coronary heart disease up to 40% which is almost the same level as that in active smokers. But despite countless researches on this subject, what scientists never managed to identify is a safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke. No matter how much or how little time someone spends in a smoky room, the effects of passive smoking are always devastating for health.

Dangers of passive smoking for children?

Children are particularly vulnerable to second-hand smoke so it is highly advisable for parents who are smokers to never consume tobacco products inside the family home. Children that are exposed to passive smoking have a higher risk of developing several respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis or meningitis. In the UK alone, each year there are around 165.000 documented cases of respiratory problems in children that have been directly related to passive exposure to cigarette smoke.

For children, the majority of exposure to second-hand smoke happens at the family home, even if their parents try to clear out the smoke by opening the windows. It is worth mentioning that when tobacco smoke cools, 85% of it isn’t visible to the naked eye, so if the room looks smoke-free it doesn’t mean that it is. So, to make sure you’re not harming people you are living with it is best to never smoke inside.

Is it true that passive smoking is more dangerous than active?

Medical experts classify cigarette smoke in two different categories – mainstream smoke which smokers inhale through the mouth end of the cigarette and the sidestream smoke which comes from the burning tip of the cigarette. Second-hand smoke is composed of a mixture of sidestream smoke and mainstream smoke exhaled by the smoker. But, sidestream smoke is around four times more toxic than the mainstream since it is not filtered. In fact, it has been proven to contain 3 times as much carbon monoxide, 10-30 times more nitrosamines and between 15 and 300 times more ammonia as compared to mainstream smoke. So, while there may be some truth in this saying, when you’re smoking indoors, you’re both actively smoking and getting exposed to second-hand smoke which can stay in the air for hours after the cigarette is put out, so the impact on your health is even greater and should be avoided as much as possible.

How can I reduce the impact of smoking on others?

If you’re not ready to quit smoking yet, but don’t want to cause harm to people around you, there are some precautions you can take to ensure that your impact on others is minimal. Not smoking inside your family home is an obvious step since it’s the most efficient way to protect your family from the dangers of passive smoking. Some people also like to have a “smoking jacket”, a jacket you wear when going out for a cigarette. Since smoke can easily get into your clothes and spread into your home that way, you can always select clothes that will be used just when smoking and aside from that be kept in a room which isn’t often used by your housemates so the effects of passive smoking on others are minimal.

Of course, the most effective way to protect both your loved ones and your own health is to give up your bad habit. By quitting smoking, you’ll completely eliminate the dangers presented by cigarette smoke in your surroundings and drastically improve your health. There are many resources online that can help you start your journey towards a healthy and smoke-free life.