Secondhand smoke is defines as the smoke inhaled from a lit cigarette, cigar, or pipe, and the smoke exhaled by a smoker. Non-smokers that inhale second hand smoke actually breathes in almost the same amount of chemicals as a smoker. Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemical compounds, more than 50 of which are known to cause cancer.6 Chemicals that cause cancer include: Arsenic, Benzene, Beryllium, Butadiene, Cadmium, Chromium, Ethylene Oxide, Nickel, Polohium-210, and Vinyl Chloride.1 Other toxic chemicals in secondhand smoke is Hydrogen Cyanide, Carbon Monoxide, Formaldehyde, and Ammonia. No one would want to consume any one of these chemicals separately, but billions of smokers and non-smokers inhale the combination of them on a daily basis. There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.3
Approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths occur each year among adult non-smokers in the United States as a result to exposure to secondhand smoke.1 The U.S. Surgeon General estimates that living with a smoker increases a non-smoker chances of developing lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent.1 Secondhand smoke is also known to cause heart disease in adults. It is thought that secondhand smoke cause about 46,000 heart disease deaths each year.1 When you inhale secondhand smoke it irritates the airways and damages the lining of the blood vessels. Also blood platelets become stickier; which could cause blockage that leads to a heart attack or stroke.
Children are at a higher risk of the effects of secondhand smoke. Not only are they still developing physically, but their breathing rate is higher than adults. Up until a child is about five years old, the respiratory rate is usually between 20 and 60 breaths per minute.4 Children that are exposed to secondhand smoke are more prone to asthma. They will also have more severe and frequent asthma attacks. Asthma is the most common chronic childhood disease affecting 1...
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