Secondhand smoke (SHS) is a known human carcinogen and is more harmful than firsthand smoke. Two thousand twenty-two data published in the IJERPH shows that exposure to SHS increases the likelihood of lung cancer by roughly 30%. More adverse effects are noted in individuals exposed during childhood.
Lung cancer is only one of the many health risks of SHS. We must understand these dangers and how to prevent them to protect our loved ones responsibly.
Health risks of secondhand smoking
Secondhand smoking-related lung complications include cancer, as well as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), and asthma. Otherwise, a prevalent health risk of secondhand smoking is heart disease.
According to the CDC, non-smokers who are regularly exposed to SHS have a 25-30% increased risk of coronary heart disease. That’s because breathing SHS is known to affect the blood vessels, consequently increasing the risk of having high blood pressure or a heart attack.
There are also mental health risks linked with SHS. 2022 research published in BMC Public Health says passive exposure to cigarette and e-cigarette emissions is associated with increased rates of depressive symptoms and other internalizing mental health disorders, such as anxiety and panic attacks. This is likely to stem from the harmful substances in these emissions, including heavy metals, ultrafine particles, and inorganic and volatile organic compounds.
Lastly, SHS can increase a non-smoker’s vulnerability to nicotine addiction. According to the NIH, 1 in 5 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the brain become occupied by nicotine after only 1 hour of exposure to SHS. This shows that even limited exposure to SHS can deliver a substantial amount of nicotine to the brain, enough to alter its function.
Tips to prevent secondhand smoke
It can be challenging to prevent secondhand smoke if we are frequent smokers. However, we must protect our loved ones by minimizing their exposure as much as possible.
Establish smoke-free spaces
Not smoking near your loved ones is only the tip of the iceberg. If living with your loved ones, go a step further and adopt a no-smoking policy for your home. You can also restrict smoking paraphernalia to only one room or area.
This is especially crucial as recent research has emphasized the dangers of so-called third-hand smoke. Did you know that tobacco smoke can leave particles on stuff like carpets and curtains for months? Yeah, it’s pretty gross. This can even remain for several years in a closed space. Smoking in places where your loved ones frequent can thus expose them to health risks, even if you aren’t actively smoking at that time.
Smoke-free nicotine products are designed to help people reduce their cigarette use and come in various forms. One of the most popular forms is the nicotine pouch. The range of nicotine pouches available showcases a wide variety of choices, with ZYN, Rouge, On!, Lucy, and VELO all selling multiple strengths and flavors that cater to different markets.
For instance, ZYN spearmint nicotine pouches have a refreshing menthol feel and come in 6mg strength, contrasting with the mango Lucy products at 12mg. The idea behind multiple flavors and brands is to allow users to construct a bespoke experience to make cessation easier, irrespective of how much tobacco they smoked.
These products join nicotine gums and lozenges in the modern oral nicotine catalog. The pouches must only be tucked in between the lip and gums for the nicotine to release. Besides being smoke-free, they are spit-free as well. This makes them an excellent alternative for public places where you can spend time with your loved ones and not worry about SHS or withdrawal symptoms.
Smokers who find it difficult to break the physical habit of “gestures” in the traditional cigarette smoking ritual can opt for inhalers. QuitGo’s soft-tip harmless cigarette is smoke and nicotine-free. A 2021 smoking cessation intervention confirmed that the inhaler can effectively help smokers in the workplace.
These alternatives can also help you make the best decision to quit for your health and your loved ones’ health.
At the end of the day, small measures such as opening windows, investing in air filters, or smoking in another room don’t remove all traces of SHS. These particles will additionally stick to your clothing and hair. By comprehensively banning all smoking activities, you can ensure a higher quality of life for you and your loved ones.
Secondhand smoke is a dangerous health hazard that must be taken seriously. Smoke-free environments should be a priority to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the long-term health risks of secondhand smoke.
By taking the necessary steps to minimize exposure, you can ensure a healthier lifestyle for you and those you care about.
If you enjoyed this article as a smoker looking to quit, you might also find benefit in reading our piece titled ‘Snoring Solutions: How to Help You and Your Snoring Partner Sleep Better’, given the link between smoking and snoring.