The benefits of quitting smoking on those around you.

March 26, 2016

Passive smoking kills 600 000 people per year including 168 000 children. These smoking facts were published in the January issue of Lancet 2011 and were based on a retrospective analysis of data from 192 countries. Frightening statistics especially the disease burden on our own children. However, this is not surprising as it has been calculated that children whose parents smoke receive a total nicotine dose equivalent to them actively smoking between 60-150 cigarettes each year!

Quitting smoking decreases the excess risk of diseases related to second-hand smoke inhalation by your loved ones.

What is second-hand smoke?

Second-hand smoke consists of “mainstream” smoke which the smoker has inhaled and then exhaled, and “Sidestream” smoke which comes from the burning tip of the cigarette. Of the two types of smoke, “sidestream” smoke is responsible for 85% of the smoke in a room. It contains toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, ammonia, formaldehyde and hydrogen cyanide. It also contains particles of tar, nicotine and benzine plus irritants and carcinogens (cancer-producing substances). A passive, non-smoker, together in a room with a smoker inhales both the “mainstream” and “sidestream” smoke.

Exposure to second-hand smoke has significant health implications.

  • Pregnant women exposed to second hand smoke are at an increased risk of miscarriage, premature births and babies of lower birth weight.
  • Infants exposed to second-hand smoke are at an increased risk of cot death, allergies, ear infections, respiratory illnesses including bronchitis and pneumonia.
  • Children exposed to second-hand smoke are at an increased risk of behavioural problems, infections of the chest and lungs, impaired ability to smell and childhood cancers including brain cancer and lymphomas.
  • Adults who are regular passive smokers face the same health risks as those of a smoker.

There are no safe levels of exposure to tobacco smoke.

Quitting smoking also decreases the excess risk of diseases related to third-hand smoke in children and pets.

What is third-hand smoke?

Third-hand smoke is the residual nicotine and other chemicals left on your clothes, skin, hair and a variety of indoor surfaces by tobacco smoke. This residue reacts with common indoor pollutants to produce a toxic mix of cancer containing substances which pose a potential hazard to those that are exposed to it, especially babies, children and pets.

This residue clings to surfaces and remains long after smoking has stopped. In fact the toxic exposure can persist for years as it is resistant to normal cleaning. (Nicotine can only be removed with an acid cleanser and most household soaps are alkaline.)

Infants, small children and indoor pets are at particular risk as they crawl and play on contaminated surfaces.

The only way to protect those around you from second & third-hand smoke is to create a smoke-free environment at home, in the office and in your vehicle.

Your loved ones and those around you have immediate and long term health benefits when you stop smoking.

Research shows that three quarters of smokers say they would like to quit and over one third of them go on to make a quit attempt each year. Unfortunately only a small proportion, less than 5%, quit smoking successfully. Stopping smoking is not easy and most smokers will make several attempts to quit before they are successful.

What is the best way to quit smoking?

Evidence shows that the best way to quit smoking is by using a combination of behaviour change techniques, face-to-face support and medication. This combination treatment triples your chances of a successfully quit smoking attempt when compared to trying to “quit smoking cold turkey”. So one of the tips to quit smoking is to get help and increase your chance of successfully stopping smoking. To find out more about GoSmokeFree e mail info@gosmokefree.co.za or phone us on 021 180 4490.

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