Secondhand smoke (SHS) is the smoke exhaled by smoker or coming from the tip of the cigarettes. A great poet Mian Muhammad Bakhsh (late) say in a couplet,
“The company of a bad man is like a blacksmith’s shop,
Even if you take a lot of care to protect yourself, you will get sparks in thousands”
Many people in this world do not pay heed to their company and claim that they do not take any influence of their company if it is bad. But the couplet of Mian Muhammad Bakhsh beautifully explains that bad company ultimately effects . One can’t completely avoid from tiny fire sparks sitting in iron smith’s working place. A man is never safe from influence of his company be it good or bad.The same happens if a person sits with a smoker. The non-smoker gets poisoned though he thinks that he is safe. According to health experts , secondhand smoke is more dangerous to nonsmokers than a smoker.
Secondhand Smoking and its effects
When talking with people about smoking, the common perceptions that comes forward is that it’s just a mood relaxing activity that has little or no negative impacts. But how smoke can be beneficial in any way to the humans? I always wondered that how people boldly and logically defend this dirty habit without even understanding that what they are saying. Smoking no doubt is injurious to health but there are many other terms related to it that are equally or more injurious to health. We usually think that one who smokes, harms himself only but the matter is opposite. The small ignorable thing cigarette has a storm of destruction hidden inside which needs to be seen by everyone.
The unlucky who smokes not only puts himself in danger but the surrounding people and environment also pay for it. The smoke exhaled by a smoker isn’t just a puff rather it has death certificate of the people around it. The specific term “Second hand smoking” describes the hazard hidden in the smoke. Second hand smoke is that smoke which is blend of smoky puff exhaled by a person and the smoke that comes out of cigarette or hooka whose end is burnt. A moment of shock to know that this smoke has around 7000 chemicals and around 70 of these chemicals can cause cancer while hundreds are extremely toxic. The toxic and carcinogenic chemicals in second hand smoke are formaldehyde, benzene, vinyl chloride, arsenic ammonia and hydrogen cyanide. Also known as Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS), second hand smoking is in fact more dangerous and toxic than the actual smoke which is exhaled as it causes 41,000 deaths per year. The reason is that the particles of second hand smoke are smaller as compared to the mainstream smoke which is exhaled, these particles can easily make their way to the lungs and other body cells of victim more easily. The problem should be understood that those who smoke are really doing injustice with themselves, their surrounding people and their environment.
Imagine you are sitting with your dearest friend or any family member who smokes, he is smoking and generally it is not noticed. But the non-smoker who sits near the smoker while he is smoking, receives the same amount of nicotine and the toxic chemicals as the smoker. This exposure to second hand smoking is known as “Passive/involuntary smoking”. The more a person breaths in such air, the more toxic chemicals he receives in his body. The worrying reality is that there is no safe level of exposure to this type of smoking. While writing this, stopped for a bit and felt worried that how common is secondhand smoking in our society and our homes. In our homes people smoke freely and other family members pay the same price though they do not smoke. It is such a deadliest thing that one has never smoked can also have lung cancer just because of exposure to second hand smoke. It can also cause various other forms of cancer like cancer of larynx, pharynx, brain, bladder, rectum, stomach and breast as well.
Each year, 7,330 people in US die because of lung cancer caused by second hand smoke and 33,950 people die because of heart attack that is a consequence of exposure to Second hand smoke. Blood vessels get damage and risk of heart attack or stroke gets develop in non-smokers. There are some researches and evidences that emotional changes and depression among people is also related to second hand smoking. I found a report of US Surgeon General which is very much alarming as it says that between the year 1964 and 2014, 2.5 million people died who were non-smokers but they were exposed to second hand smoke in their homes, offices, workplaces or public places. It is such a dangerous thing that even a shorter exposure to second hand smoke can damage the body cells in such a way that cancer in developed in them. The non-smokers who are unveiled to the second hand smoke at their homes or work places have 25-30% more risk of developing the heart disease.
The more worrying concern for me is that the adults who smoke at their homes are damaging the health of their own children as the children are also victims of second hand smoke. These people are doing worst the twice, they are smoking and effecting the health of children as well. Second hand smoke can be anywhere, at home, school, in vehicles, playgrounds, shopping malls or hotels. Approximately 38% of the children between the age of 2 months and 5 years are exposed to the second hand smoke at their homes. The children who group up in to the second hand smoke environment have less growth of their lungs as compared to those who do not breathe in such environment. They can also have heart attacks, lung cancer and cataracts. They have increased risk of bronchitis (436,000 visits of victim child to doctors annually) and pneumonia (190,000 cases per year under 5). These children can also have asthma and those who are already suffering from it get it more frequent and severe, putting their lives into danger. Increased ear infections are also seen in cases of exposure to second hand smoking, as around 2 lac children develop ear infections per year. Moreover, coughing, sneezing, cold, sore throat, eye irritation and hoarseness are also seen as a result of second hand smoke exposure. These problems are often considered as smaller ones but they may add up to put the life of children in threat.
In case of adults second hand smoke can effects them at their work places, public places or in vehicles as well. Imagine the results that if in a vehicle, only one person smoking but all the other non-smokers will receive the same damage in their body. The only way to create the smoke free environment is that smoking should be prohibited. If you are a smoker first you should quit it to set the example. Adopt the healthy life style and know more about the ways which can save our health and environment as well. The purpose of being in this world is to be more productive be more sincere and be more beneficial for yourself, your family, your fellow beings and finally the planet earth also needs our positive contribution for its survival. Through my tobacco campaign I have promised with my Lord that I have known the dangers of one habit, I will let my human fellows to know this so that they can also play their positive part. With each anti-smoking session and each piece of writing, the slogan is same, “Save lives, save humans and save this beautiful earth”