Secondhand smoke (SHS), also called passive smoke or environmental tobacco smoke, can have serious health implications for non-smokers. Research has proven that exposure to secondhand smoke can lead to diseases such as cancer and various respiratory illnesses.
Tests have shown that secondhand smoke contains at least 69 toxins that are known cancer-causing agents or have possible cancer causing effects. Some of the conditions that can result from or worsen due to exposure to secondhand smoke are:
Many studies have proven that prolonged exposure to SHS has a carcinogenic impact on humans. It has been shown that people exposed to this type smoke have a higher risk of developing lung cancer.
There is also a higher possibility of brain tumors in children so exposed, even if their mothers are non-smokers.
Apart from lung cancer, non-smokers who are exposed to passive smoke can develop lung-related illnesses as a result.
Heart disease and many circulatory conditions have also been linked to exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.
There is ample evidence that exposure to secondhand smoke can make asthma and other respiratory conditions worse.
Pregnancy and birth complications
Some cases of low birth weight babies or premature births have been linked to the mother’s exposure to secondhand smoke. Passive smoking was linked to some cases of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by the US Surgeon General in a 2006 report.
Hearing loss and nose and throat infections have been attributed to some degree to exposure to passive smoke. Other illnesses that scientists and doctors are exploring for this relationship are allergies, dementia and some skin conditions.
Children and the sick are especially vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke. Continued research has shown that people exposed to secondhand smoke are as much at risk for some conditions as the smokers themselves. Despite all the evidence to date of the negative impact of SHS many smokers are still not sufficiently convinced to stop exposing others.