Secondhand smoke is a mixture of the smoke given off by the burning end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar, and the smoke exhaled by smokers. Secondhand smoke is also called environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and exposure to secondhand smoke is sometimes called involuntary or passive smoking. Secondhand smoke contains more that 4,000 substances, several of which are known to cause cancer in humans or animals.
* Exposure to secondhand smoke can cause lung cancer in adults who do not smoke. Exposure to secondhand smoke causes approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths per year in nonsmokers.
* Exposure to secondhand smoke has also been shown in a number of studies to increase the risk of heart disease.
Serious Health Risks to Children
Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke because they are still developing physically, have higher breathing rates than adults, and have little control over their indoor environments. Children exposed to high doses of secondhand smoke, such as those whose mothers smoke, run the greatest relative risk of experiencing damaging health effects.
bar chart on health effects
* Exposure to secondhand smoke can cause asthma in children who have not previously exhibited symptoms.
* Exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
* Infants and children younger than 6 who are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk of lower respiratory track infections, such as pneumonia and bronchitis.
* Children who regularly breathe secondhand smoke are at increased risk for middle ear infections.
Health Risks to Children with Asthma
* Asthma is the most common chronic childhood disease affecting 1 in 13 school aged children on average.
* Exposure to secondhand smoke can cause new cases of asthma in children who have not previously shown symptoms.
* Exposure to secondhand smoke can trigger asthma attacks and make asthma symptoms more severe.
Tobacco Smoke is a health hazard for pets
If you consider yourself an animal-lover you should be aware that second-hand smoke harms not only people around you, but your pets as well. Cats, dogs, birds and even fish exposed to environmental tobacco smoke can be harmed.
According to a study carried out by Colorado State University, tobacco smoke can cause severe health complications in pets. The study found that the members of families smoke, the higher is the risk of developing particular types of cancer in their pets, as those animals which live together with at least one smoker, have a two-time higher risk of having lung cancer.
Scientists admit there is a direct relation between second-hand smoke and certain diseases, highly dangerous to pets’ life. The study, which has been published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, discovered that dogs with longer noses, such as shepherds and collies are 50 percent more likely to have particular kinds of nasal cancer if their owners smoke, since their nose tissue is exposed to the cancer-causing substance they breathe in. As regards medium and short-nosed dogs, they are more likely to develop lung cancer, because the toxic chemicals contained in tobacco smoke rapidly reach their lungs.
Another study carried out by Tufts College of Veterinary Medicine research team came to the conclusion that cats who live in a house with smoker are several times more likely to have particular types of cancer. Among cancer types, peculiar to cats owned by smokers, there is squamous cell carcinoma, a type or oral cancer, caused probably by the exposure mucous membranes in their mouth to carcinogens settled on their fur; another frequent type of cancer developing in cats owned by smokers is lymphoma, a malignant tumor found in the lymph which is fatal to the majority of cats within a approximately a year of developing.
Bird owners should also be concerned, as birds exposed to secondhand smoke are several times more likely to develop respiratory diseases, pneumonia and even lung cancer.
Tobacco smoke contains more than 5,000 substances, more than 70 of these chemicals, such as cancer-causing nitrosamines, toxins and allergens are known to trigger health complications, related to tobacco consumption. Smokers are aware that they are not the only ones to suffer from the hazardous smoke, as the non-smokers exposed to it also have increased chances of developing many severe health complications. And now the scientists found that pets should also be included in the list of victims of second-hand smoke.
Pets can be affected by tobacco not only when inhaling the smoke, but as well by swallowing tobacco residue, known as “third-hand smoke”, which gets settled on their fur. Second-hand smoke may provoke allergies and skin irritation in dogs and cats. In addition, puppies can accidentally eat cigarette butts and get a severe nicotine poisoning.
Veterinarians advice smokers who own pets to light up outside of their houses and at a certain distance from their pets. Smokers should also ventilate the air inside their houses, bath their pets more regularly to keep their fur free from tobacco smoke particles, clean the place of pet’s sleeping and playing, and be sure to remove tobacco butts from any place the pet can reach and swallow them.