“Stay away from smokers.” That’s what U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona is telling us in the wake of a newly published study examining the effects of cigarette and cigar smoke. “The science is clear. Secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance, but a serious health hazard,” says Carmona.
According to the 670-page report, there is no safe level of second-hand smoke. Even smoke that randomly drifts past non-smokers has the potential to be very harmful. Everyday, over 126 million nonsmoking Americans are exposed to secondhand smoke. Of these non-smoking people, more than 35,000 will die each year as a result of “involuntary” smoking.
What does this mean to family members of smokers? Inside the home, the government can’t ban the smoking of tobacco, or protect non-smoking people from its deadly effects. New estimates show that just over 1 in 5 children breaths their parents smoke each day. This is especially dangerous to younger children with developing bodies. Carmona’s report goes on to say that secondhand smoke puts children at risk for sudden infant death syndrome, bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma attacks, poor lung growth and ear infections. Parents who can’t kick the habit are encouraged to go outside to smoke, and to never smoke in the house or in the car. Opening a window will not protect anyone.
Outside the home, the Surgeon General says separate smoking sections in public places just won’t cut the mustard, regardless of the type of ventilation being used. Toxic fumes are still present in the air, and that’s enough to increase a non-smokers risk of developing lung cancer or heart disease by up to 30 percent.
The facts, as spelled out in the Surgeon Generals report, are crystal clear. Smoking is not safe for the smoker, or anyone in his or her path. So make smart choices for your life. If you’re a smoker, kick the habit. If you can’t quit, then smoke outside, far away from anyone else. If you’re a non-smoker, don’t let anyone smoke near you or your family.
[Source: cnn.com, article published 6/27/06]