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10 Harmful Effects Of Passive Smoking

We all know smoking is injurious to health. Individuals with the constant habit of smoking, simply called active smokers are the basic cause of passive smoking. Smoking claims the lives of over seven million people each year and of those around 900,000 non-smokers die each year, due to the exposure to the second-hand smoke[1] .

Passive smoking, also called as second-hand smoking is the process through which people who are usually non-smokers can develop lung cancer, coughing and wheezing, asthma, sore throats and colds, eye irritation, and hoarseness. Passive smoking can increase a non-smoker's risk of getting lung cancer by a quarter, and may also increase the risk of cancers of the larynx and pharynx [2] [3] .

Second-hand smoke is also called environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), is a mixture of two forms of smoke that come from burning tobacco [3]. That is, mainstream smoke, the smoke exhaled by a smoker and side-stream smoke, the smoke from the lighted end of a cigarette, cigar, or tobacco burning in a hookah.

When non-smokers are exposed to second-hand smoke it is called involuntary smoking or passive smoking [4] . The more second-hand smoke you breathe, the higher the levels of these harmful chemicals going inside your body.

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Harmful Effects Of Passive Smoking

For adults

1. Lung cancer

Non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke of others are increasingly prone to lung cancer. The risk of lung cancer in these individuals increase by about 20 to 30%. Second-hand smoke is found to contain more than 4000 chemicals, out of which almost 69 are known to cause cancer, especially lung cancer [5] .

2. Asthma

One of the other major negative effects of passive or second-hand smoke is its adverse effect on an individual suffering from asthma. Not only does it contribute towards the development of the respiratory issue but also worsens it [6] .

3. Coronary diseases

Various studies have pointed out that a non-smoker exposed to second-hand smoking have a high risk of developing coronary diseases [7] such as coronary artery disease, congenital heart disease etc.

4. Respiratory problems

Apart from causing asthma, passive smoking is a major cause of various respiratory issues. breathing problems are very common among passive smokers, both adults and children [8] . These are difficult to cure and continue life long unless you get rid of the effects of passive smoking. If you are in a second-hand smoke prone area, you will suffer from respiratory problems[9] .

5. Heart attacks

Second-hand smoke or passive smoke can cause your blood to become sticky, resulting in the arteries getting clogged. The harmful chemicals found in the smoke increases the risks of heart attacks and strokes[10] .

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For pregnant women

6. Premature death

Pregnant women are at a high risk of being adversely affected by passive smoking. The second-hand smoke can negatively interfere with the health of the pregnant mother, causing internal complications and thereby resulting in premature death [10] . It decreases the amount of oxygen available to mother and baby, causing premature death.

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For infants & children

7. Low weight in babies

A non-smoking pregnant woman is likely to deliver a pre-mature baby or a baby with relatively low weight, which can be fatal in most cases. In other cases, the child will be prone to a plethora of health issues in the future [11] .

8. Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

Also called as cot-death, passive smoking is the single and central cause of SIDS in newborn babies [10] .

9. Hearing problems

A child exposed to passive smoking at a very young age is most likely to develop child deafness. The smoke can cause middle ear infections and glue-ear, which can lead to deafness [12] .

10. Low immunity

One of the major side effects of passive smoking on children is low immunity. Breathing in the second-hand smoke causes their immune system to shut down partially and functionless. This results in the children falling sick too often, causing various health issues [12] .

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View Article References
  1. [1] Cavalcante, D. N. D. C., Sposito, J. C. V., Crispim, B. D. A., Nascimento, A. V. D., & Grisolia, A. B. (2017). Genotoxic and mutagenic effects of passive smoking and urban air pollutants in buccal mucosa cells of children enrolled in public school. Toxicology mechanisms and methods, 27(5), 346-351.
  2. [2] Li, N., Li, Z., Chen, S., Yang, N., Ren, A., & Ye, R. (2015). Effects of passive smoking on hypertension in rural Chinese nonsmoking women. Journal of hypertension, 33(11), 2210-2214.
  3. [3] Cao, S., Yang, C., Gan, Y., & Lu, Z. (2015). The health effects of passive smoking: an overview of systematic reviews based on observational epidemiological evidence. PloS one, 10(10), e0139907.
  4. [4] Leão, H. Z., Zettler, C. G., Cambruzzi, E., Lammers, M., da Luz Soster, P. R., de Mello, F. B., ... & Jotz, G. P. (2017). The effects of passive smoking on laryngeal and tracheal mucosa in male wistar rats during growth: an experimental study. Journal of Voice, 31(1), 126-e19.
  5. [5] Chang, J., Ryou, N., Jun, H. J., Hwang, S. Y., Song, J. J., & Chae, S. W. (2016). Effect of cigarette smoking and passive smoking on hearing impairment: data from a population–based study. PLoS One, 11(1), e0146608.
  6. [6] Ukawa, S., Tamakoshi, A., Yatsuya, H., Yamagishi, K., Ando, M., Iso, H., & JACC Study Group. (2017). Passive smoking and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease mortality: findings from the Japan collaborative cohort study. International journal of public health, 62(4), 489-494.
  7. [7] Gu, L., Li, J., Pan, G., Zhou, X., Zhang, J., Lai, X., & Liu, J. (2017). Effects of Passive Smoking on Glycemic Parameters and Lipid Profiles in a Chinese Female Population. Clinical laboratory, 63(7), 1147-1152.
  8. [8] El-Zaatari, Z. M., Chami, H. A., & Zaatari, G. S. (2015). Health effects associated with waterpipe smoking. Tobacco control, 24(Suppl 1), i31-i43.
  9. [9] Sabbagh, H. J., Hassan, M. H. A., Innes, N. P., Elkodary, H. M., Little, J., & Mossey, P. A. (2015). Passive smoking in the etiology of non-syndromic orofacial clefts: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS one, 10(3), e0116963.
  10. [10] Fernández-Plata, R., Rojas-Martínez, R., Martínez-Briseño, D., García-Sancho, C., & Pérez-Padilla, R. (2016). Effect of passive smoking on the growth of pulmonary function and respiratory symptoms in schoolchildren. Revista de Investigación Clínica, 68(3), 119-127.
  11. [11] Leng, J., Wang, P., Shao, P., Zhang, C., Li, W., Li, N., ... & Chan, J. C. (2017). Passive smoking increased risk of gestational diabetes mellitus independently and synergistically with prepregnancy obesity in Tianjin, China. Diabetes/metabolism research and reviews, 33(3), e2861.
  12. [12] Jayes, L., Haslam, P. L., Gratziou, C. G., Powell, P., Britton, J., Vardavas, C., ... & Fletcher, M. (2016). SmokeHaz: systematic reviews and meta-analyses of the effects of smoking on respiratory health. Chest, 150(1), 164-179.

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