Secondhand smoke is a mixture of gases and fine particles that includes: Smoke from a burning tobacco product such as a cigarette, cigar, pipe, hookah, and e-cigarettes. More than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and about 70 that can cause cancer.
Submitted by Julie Russell,
Tobacco Prevention Specialist – Carter, Fallon, Powder River Counties
Most exposure to secondhand smoke occurs in homes and workplaces. Secondhand smoke exposure also continues to occur in multi-unit housing and vehicles. Eliminating smoking in indoor spaces is the only way to fully protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke exposure. (Montana Clean Indoor Air Act :
www.dpphs.mt.gov/mtupp/cleanairact). Separating smokers from nonsmokers within the same air space, cleaning the air, opening windows, and ventilating buildings does not eliminate secondhand smoke exposure.
In children, secondhand smoke causes the following: ear infections, more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory symptoms (e.g., coughing, sneezing, shortness of breath), respiratory infections (i.e., bronchitis, pneumonia), a greater risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). In U.S. children aged 18 months or younger, secondhand smoke exposure is responsible for an estimated 150,000-300,000 new cases of bronchitis and pneumonia annually.
In adults who have never smoked, secondhand smoke can cause cardiovascular disease and lung cancer. Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke increase their heart disease risk by 25-30 percent. It is estimated that secondhand smoke exposure caused nearly 34,000 heart disease deaths annually. Secondhand smoke exposure causes an estimated more than 7,300 lung cancer deaths annually among adult nonsmokers in the United States.
There is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure; even brief exposure can be harmful to health.
Secondhand smoke exposure has decreased in recent years due to the growing number of laws that prohibit smoking in workplaces and public places, including restaurants and bars, the increase in the number of households with voluntary smoke-free home rules, and the decrease in adult and youth smoking rates.
Eliminating smoking in indoor spaces is the only way to fully protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke exposure. Separating smokers from nonsmokers within the same air space, cleaning the air, opening windows, and ventilating buildings does not eliminate secondhand smoke exposure.
In 2005, the Montana legislature passed the Clean Indoor Air Act (CIAA), one of the most important public health policies in state history. Laws like the CIAA reduce heart attack rates by at least 20 percent. They also reduce lung disease, including lung cancer, as well as other debilitating and fatal illnesses, and they protect unborn children and young children from health problems.
Remember, if you would like help quitting tobacco, the Montana Tobacco Quit Line is there for you. Over 70,000 Montanans have called into the Quit Line since 2004. Benefits include a free personalized quit plan; free coaching calls; free educational materials; and enrolled callers may be eligible for up to eight weeks of free nicotine replacement therapy or discounted cessation and medications. People can call the Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT-Now (1-800-794-8669) or visit www.QuitNowMontana.com to enroll for these free services.