Secondhand smoke is a severe health threat to both smokers and non-smokers. A study published by the Science of the Total Environment journal has shown that cigarettes contain more than 7,000 chemicals—and their combustion produces potential toxicants that are released through secondhand smoking. In fact, there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Even a brief exposure can cause immediate harm and long-term disease. Today, we’ll dive deeper into secondhand smoke, its dangers, and ways to reduce its harmful effects:
Effects of secondhand smoking
The effects of secondhand smoke are not always immediately apparent, but they can have a lasting impact on the people around you. Here are three ways a smoking habit can affect other people:
It causes lung cancer
The WHO attributes a third of cancer deaths to smoking. Secondhand exposure to tobacco smoke is also linked to lung cancer. Those who live with smokers have double the risk of developing lung cancer than those who do not live with smokers. This is because the tobacco smoke they inhale deposits chemicals that can damage cells and DNA in their lungs. These damaged cells can then turn into malignant tumors over time.
It increases the risk of stroke
Secondhand smoke increases the risk of stroke in adults by 20% to 30%. A stroke occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is interrupted, depriving that area of oxygen. Secondhand smoking has been shown to contribute to the risk of a stroke by increasing a person’s risk of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular problems. Breathing smoke particles, even briefly, can cause damage to the lining of blood vessels and block blood flow to the brain.
It causes skin problems
Secondhand smoke contains thousands of toxic chemicals that irritate a person’s skin. These chemicals cause the body to form free radicals that attack healthy cells and tissues. They can cause inflammation and irritation that can manifest as skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. Secondhand smoke also leads to premature aging by drying out the skin, making it lose elasticity, and encouraging the development of dark spots, wrinkles, and discoloration.
Tips to reduce the effects of secondhand smoking
If you’re worried about the health effects of secondhand smoke on yourself or the people around you, here are some tips to reduce the impact of secondhand smoking:
Use smokeless nicotine products
Tapering down cigarette use is not always easy, but smoking alternatives, like nicotine pouches and patches, can help reduce the negative consequences of cigarette smoke. ZYN pouches show how nicotine cravings can be satisfied through smoke-free and tobacco-free products. These nicotine pouches come in various strengths and flavors that will help keep you away from your next cigarette. Smokeless products such as ZYN pouches or Nicotex patches can protect yourself and the people around you from the effects of secondhand smoke.
Keep your home a smoke-free zone
Ensure your home is free of secondhand smoke by keeping it a smoke-free zone. Don’t allow yourself or anyone else to smoke inside the house. If someone tries to light up inside, offer an alternative location outside where they can smoke safely away from others. Make sure you don’t leave cigarettes where they are easy to reach. Apart from protecting other people from exposure to secondhand smoke, this strategy can also keep you away from your next cigarette.
Use a HEPA air filter
One of the best ways to reduce the effects of secondhand smoke is to use a good air filter in your shared spaces. These filters can capture most smoke particles before reaching a person’s lungs. HEPA filters can reduce the number of chemicals in secondhand smoke by up to 99%. They’re especially effective at removing formaldehyde, one of the worst toxins released by cigarette smoking.
The effects of secondhand smoke can be far-reaching and deadly. Understanding its consequences and knowing the options to eliminate them are essential steps you can take toward curbing your smoking habits.