12 January 2009

Passive smoking can kill you

Passive smoking basically means breathing in other people's smoke. If you spend eight hours in a smoke-filled room, it is as if you have smoked 36 cigarettes.


Passive smoking basically means breathing in other people's smoke. If you spend eight hours in a smoke-filled room, it is as if you have smoked 36 cigarettes.

This is according to a press release from the Cape Town No-Tobacco Forum Task Group.

The non-smoker breathes in second-hand (or environmental tobacco smoke), which includes sidestream smoke (i.e the one corner burning end of the cigarette) and mainstream smoke (i.e smoke exhaled by the smoker).

Second hand smoke is the main cause of indoor air pollution and people are usually exposed at home, in workplace and public places such as restaurants and bars.

Health effects of second-hand smoke
There are many immediate effects of second-hand smoke. And then there are also long-term effects.

  • Eye Irritation, headache, nasal discomfort and sneezing, cough and sore throat, nausea and dizziness, increased heart rate and blood pressure.
  • A non-smoker working in a smoke-filled room for eight hours will breathe as many cancer-causing chemicals as if he or she had smoked 36 cigarettes.
  • Second-hand smoke is especially harmful to children.
  • Children who breathe second-hand smoke are more likely to get colds, allergies, middle ear infections, and "glue ear", which is the most common cause of deafness in children.
  • Exposure to second-hand smoke and smoking while pregnant are both linked to miscarriage, low birth weight and stillborn births. There is also evidence that postnatal exposure of infants to second-hand smoke contributes to the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

What you can do about second-hand smoke

  • Strive to make your home, workplace and community smoke-free.
  • Support the new Tobacco Legislation, which protects non-smokers from the dangers of passive smoking.
  • If your workplace does not yet comply with the new law, help develop a smoke-free policy at work.
  • Ask smokers not to smoke around you.
  • Don't allow smokers to smoke around your children
  • Ask visitors not to smoke in your home
  • If you live with smokers, set up a place outside where they can smoke, or help them quit.
  • If you smoke, avoid smoking in enclosed areas such as homes, offices, taxis, trains where others may be exposed to second-hand smoke.

Other tips

  • Keep a fresh taste in your mouth by brushing your teeth frequently and using mouthwash, or a fresh breath spray
  • Do stretching exercises
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Give yourself time for activities that are really important to you
  • Take deep breaths as a distraction technique to relax

The Cape Town No-Tobacco Forum Task Group consists of the following organisations:
Dept of Health (W. Cape): 021-483 2677
Cancer Assoc: 021-689 5347
Heart Foundation: 021-447 4222
City Health Smoke Complaints Line: 021-400 4291
City Health Directorate: 021-400 4290
Smokenders: 021-788 9120
Health Promotion: 021-918 1708 (Editor)


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