- Secondhand Smoke (SHS) or Environmental tobacco smoke is the complex mixture of chemicals generated during the burning to tobacco products.
- The principal contributor to SHS is "sidestream smoke", the material emitted from the smoldering tobacco products between puffs. Other components of SHS include exhaled mainstream smoke, mainstream smoke emitted at the mouthpiece during puff drawing, and the compounds diffused through the wrapper.
- "Mainstream smoke" is the complex mixture that exits from the mouthpiece of a burning cigarette when a puff is inhaled by the smoker.
- The characteristics of SHS change as it ages and combines with other constituents in the ambient air. Exposure to SHS is also frequently referred to as "passive smoking", or "involuntary tobacco smoke" exposure.
What is Secondhand Smoke (SHS)
Constituents & Properties
- Tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals, of which hundreds are harmful and about 70 can cause cancers. Many potentially toxic gases are present in higher concentrations in sidestream smoke than in mainstream smoke. And nearly 85% of the smoke in a room results from sidestream smoke.
- The particulate phase includes tar (itself composed of many chemicals), nicotine, benzene and benzopyrene.
- The gas phase includes carbon monoxide, ammonia, dimethylnitrosamine, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide and acrolein.
- Some of these particles have shown to have irritant properties and known (or suspected) as carcinogens.
- Eye irritation, headache, cough, sore throat, dizziness and nausea.
- Adults with asthma can experience a significant decline in lung function when exposed, while new cases of asthma may be induced in children whose parents smoke.
- 30 minutes exposure to tobacco smoke reduces coronary blood flow.
Long Term Effects
- Passive smokers suffer an increased risk of a range of smoking-related diseases
- Spontaneous abortion on fetus, lower birth weight or small for gestational age, increased risks of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and Adverse impact on cognition and behavior;
- Respiratory Diseases - Decreased pulmonary function, Exacerbation of cystic fibrosis, Acute lower respiratory tract infections in children (e.g. bronchitis and pneumonia), Eye and nasal irritation in adults and increased risks of Middle ear infections in children
- Cardiovascular diseases, increased risk of acute and chronic coronary heart diseases and stroke.
- Cancers – Secondhand Smoke can cause lung cancer in non-smokers. Secondhand smoke has been classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a known cause of lung cancer in humans (Group A carcinogen). Secondhand Smoke can increase risks of many cancers.
How to achieve a smoke-free home
- Let your visitors know your home is a smoke-free zone, request them to smoke outside.
- Ask your visitors to put off the cigarette before entering your room.
- Do not allow baby-sitters or others who work in your home to smoke in the house or near your children.
- Remove all ashtrays.
- If a family member insists on smoking indoors, increase ventilation in the area where smoking takes place. Open windows or use exhaust fans.
When out and about in a public place, politely ask smokers to move away from an area that is smoke free.