environmental Tobacco Smoke

Environmental tobacco smoke, ETS, is smoke containing 4,000 different dangerous chemicals emitted from a burning cigarette, pipe or cigar. ETS is commonly known as secondhand smoke that affects non-smokers and the smoke that cigarette smokers breathe themselves.

Facts about Environmental Tobacco Smoke

  • Smoking still remains the leading preventable cause of death, responsible for nearly one in five deaths and contributes to 30% of all cancer related deaths in the US.
  • Causes premature death and disease in children and adults who do not smoke.
  • Exposure of adults to ETS has adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and causes coronary artery disease and lung cancer.
  • Scientific evidence indicates that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke (U.S. Surgeon General 2006)
  • An estimated 126 million Americans, both adults and children, are still exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes and workplaces.
  • In Minnesota, healthcare costs associated with smoking and secondhand exposure add up to nearly 400 dollars per person every year.
  • Eliminating smoking in indoor spaces is the only way to fully protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke exposure.
  • Separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air, and ventilating buildings cannot eliminate secondhand smoke exposure.

Environmental Tobacco Smoke: Dangers for Children

Children who breathe in environmental tobacco smoke are at risk for many serious health problems and are affected by numerous ear infections, hearing problems, upper respiratory infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, coughing and wheezing. More immediate problems include stuffy nose, headaches, sore throat, eye irritation, nausea, loss of appetite, lack of energy and fussiness. Asthma is one of the most common health problems associated with ETS. Exposure to just 10 cigarettes per day will raise the child's chances of getting asthma even if that child has never had any symptoms.

Prevent children from being exposed to ETS by not smoking in your home or vehicle. Smoking in your vehicle with children and the windows rolled up is twice as bad as a smoke-filled bar because of the microenvironment in your vehicle. Opening your windows is still not enough to clear the air. In addition, almost 50% of the homes in the U.S. have at least one smoker living there. This means that millions of children are exposed to ETS in their homes and may expose children to higher chances of developing unwanted health problems.

Smoking during pregnancy

When a mother smokes during pregnancy, the unborn baby will have a higher chance of becoming premature, having a low birth weight, developing childhood cancer and an increase risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). In addition, tobacco smoke may be contributed to attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Unborn babies are also exposed to the same chemicals in cigarette smoke and are deprived of oxygen essential for the developing young one to grow to be a healthy baby. Inhaling smoke from cigarettes of others is just as dangerous for women for do not smoke. Smoking by a pregnant woman may contribute to respiratory symptoms and slows lung growth in their children.

Tobacco smoke hazards indoors

P.M. 2.5 is air pollutant particulates that have a diameter smaller than 2.5 microns that are easily inhaled deeply into the lungs. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has found that fine particulate air pollutants can cause serious health effects, including respiratory symptoms and disease, decreased lung function and alterations in lung tissue and structure.

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Exposure to Secondhand Smoke Among Students Aged 13--15 Years Worldwide, 2000--2007

State-Specific Prevalence of Smoke-Free Home Rules United States,