Children and Secondhand Smoke

Children & Secondhand Smoke

Over the years, smoking has gone from an accepted past time to a habit that should be avoided. Medical professionals have learned more about the dangers of smoking on the human body. They have also shared the effects of secondhand smoke on the smallest humans: children.

There are two types of secondhand smoke: Mainstream smoke and side-stream smoke. Mainstream smoke is exhaled by the smoker. Side-stream smoke comes from the lit end of a cigarette, pipe or cigar that drifts into the room. Of the two types, side-stream smoke has higher amounts of cancer causing particles that make their way into the lungs of those in the room who are not smoking.

It’s no secret that smoking causes cancer in adults.

In July 1957, the U. S. Surgeon General released a statement that all of the research pointed to cigarette smoking as a cause of lung cancer. By 1971, researchers knew that secondhand smoke was also very bad.

Children who are around secondhand smoke get sick more often. They have more lung infections like bronchitis or pneumonia. They are more likely to develop a cough, shortness of breath or even develop asthma. And, children who are exposed to secondhand smoke get more ear infections.

Some of these may seem to be minor. But when a child is sick, they miss school more often which impacts their overall learning. They end up seeing the doctor more often, and need more medicine, which costs more money. And if you don’t have health insurance, that can be a really big problem.

In babies, secondhand smoke can increase the risk for serious illness and even sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). These babies are more likely to have a respiratory infection during the first year of life which can be life threatening. In pregnant women, secondhand smoke increases the risk of having a baby who is underweight.

How do you protect your family from secondhand smoke?

The government has enacted many laws to help avoid secondhand smoke when going to stores or restaurants. But you can do more to make sure your family is breathing air free of secondhand smoke.

Plan to avoid secondhand smoke by following these steps:

  • Don’t allow people to smoke in your home. Ask them to step outside if they insist on smoking. Even using air purifiers or opening windows doesn’t help remove enough of the harmful particles that smoke produces.
  • Don’t allow smoking in your car. Stop for smoke breaks instead and allow the passenger (or driver) to step out of the car to smoke.
  • Ask for non-smoking rooms when you travel and plan to stay in hotels.
  • Offer to help friends or family members quit. If they prefer to smoke, offer them options on how to be around your family without smoking around them.

The number of people who smoke is less than even 10 years ago but smoking is a hard habit to break. By looking out for the best interests of your family, you’ll be helping everyone stay healthy.

If you need help getting healthcare insurance for your children, please contact us.

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