April 21, 2007: Much has been written
and discussed on the hazards of passive smoking,
or second-hand smoke. Whenever one smokes, all the
others around him or her are smoking too because
they breathe in the same harmful substances as the
person who is smoking.
Sheer common sense and scientific research will
tell you that children are more adversely affected
by passive smoking than adults.
When a person smokes, tiny, invisible particles
mix with the surrounding air. These particles,
which are breathed in by anyone near the smoker,
get into their lungs.
Since passive smoking is especially harmful to
children, good care has to be taken to
protect your children from passive smoking by
making your home and car smoke-free.
Scientific studies have shown that passive smoke
contains numerous chemicals that are poisonous.
There are around 4,000 different chemicals in
tobacco smoke that may be breathed in by someone
who happens to be near a smoker. These toxic
chemicals also stick to clothes, furniture, walls
and inside your car.
Some of these chemicals are:
- Tar, made up of many chemicals, including
- Carbon monoxide, that lowers the amount of
oxygen your blood can carry.
- Poisons, including arsenic, ammonia and
Unless smokers are very careful about where
they smoke, children near them may breathe in
these chemicals too, increasing their risk of
What passive smoking does, especially to
Passive smoking, besides irritating the eyes
and airways, increases the risk of illnesses in
children such as pneumonia, bronchitis, coughing
and wheezing, middle-ear infections and serious
According to World Health Organisation, passive
smoking increases a child’s risk of developing
heart disease and cancer as an adult. In some
children, it may also be a contributing factor in
learning and language difficulties as well as
It has been found that young children exposed to
passive smoking have more dental decay than other
children. Recent research has also revealed that
passive smokers are more likely to develop
diabetes than people who are not exposed to
Childhood illnesses, apart from being distressing
for the child, are worrying and expensive for
parents. Hence the need to protect children from
Smoking in pregnancy
The hazards of smoking during pregnancy are
The baby is likely to be smaller at birth.
The mother is more likely to have a miscarriage.
There may be more chance of the baby being
Women whose partners smoke have a higher risk of
the baby not growing well in the womb.
Smoking during pregnancy and after the birth of a
baby are linked to the sudden infant death
Injuries caused by smoking
Children who are around people who smoke face
many more risks. They are:
- Poisoning: Cigarettes and cigarette ash are
poisonous and eating even one butt can make a
young child sick. Keep cigarettes and ashtrays
away from children.
- Burns: Cigarettes can seriously burn
- Matches and lighters: These can cause burns
and also start house fires and other fires. Keep
matches and lighters away from children.
- Motor vehicle accidents: Smoking while
driving increases the likelihood of having an
How to protect your children from passive
In recent years, the dangers of passive smoking
have become more widely known and so many people,
workplaces and public places have gone smoke-free.
Studies show that more and more people are
protecting their children from passive smoking by
having smoke-free homes and cars.
What you can do to protect your children
- Make your home and car smoke-free.
- If you are a smoker, you can decide to smoke
only outside and never smoke near children.
- Never smoke in the car when children are
- If you must smoke, limit your smoking at
home to one room, where your children do not
- If you smoke outside when they are around,
avoid the smoke drifting in their direction.
- When you have visitors, you should politely
let them know that your home is smoke-free. You
and your visitors must know that even one
cigarette can cause damage.
- Remember this: If you smoke around your
kids, they are likely to smoke, too.
BY OUR PHARMA CORRESPONDENT