I recently had the opportunity to exhibit some visuals and distribute fliers on the topic of smoking and second-hand smoke at a health fair. This is a touchy subject for many who have smoked for years and have no intention of quitting, while others know the dangers but simply choose not to quit or have tried to quit but were unsuccessful in their attempts.
Whichever the case may be, there are some health problems associated with breathing secondhand smoke, including more allergies, longer recovery from colds, more work/school days missed, and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. Children are especially vulnerable to the poisons in secondhand smoke. Children exposed to it have increased risk of pneumonia, ear infections, asthma, and bronchitis, and may exhibit underweight tendencies. Very young children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to die of sudden infant death syndrome.
To help identify tobacco triggers, think of the yellow dots with faces (American Lung Association):
· If you identify your tobacco use with mostly happy faces, you most likely use tobacco to relax, feel good, and enjoy good times. Think about where and when you use tobacco and who is with you at these times.
· If you identify your tobacco use with mostly “blah” faces, you most likely use tobacco out of boredom or habit. Think about where and when you use tobacco.
· If you identify your tobacco use with mostly unhappy faces, you most likely use tobacco when you are tense (stress), angry, or upset. Think about why, when, and where you use tobacco under these circumstances.
Smoking even occasionally inside the house can put over 3,000 chemicals in the air that can be detected up to two weeks later. If you can’t seem to stop smoking, reduce exposure to secondhand smoke for others. Avoid smoking around children altogether, or go outside. Other things to consider in order to avoid secondhand smoke include choosing non-smoking sections at restaurants, or even better, choosing restaurants that do not allow smoking. Cars should also be considered non-smoking areas for the sake of others.
The Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas indicates that when smokers quit, there are some major benefits for them over a period of time:
– 20 minutes after quitting, heart rate and blood pressure drop.
– 2 hours after quitting, the carbon monoxide level in the blood drops to normal.
– 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting, circulation improves and lung function increases.
– 1 to 9 months after quitting, coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.
– 1 year after quitting, the excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a non-smoker.
– 5 – 15 years after quitting, stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker.
– 10 years after quitting, the lung cancer death rate is about half that of a continuing smoker’s. The risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas decrease.
– 15 years after quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s.
Now, what about e-cigarettes? Just-released data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers shows that poisoning incidents involving e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine jumped by 156% in the past year. Poisoning incidents have increased more than 14 fold since 2011. A startling fact is that more than half of the calls involved a child under the age of six, and one child died. The liquid in e-cigarettes is typically a combination of nicotine, flavorings (such as bubble gum or watermelon), propylene glycol (a solvent), and other additives. The amount of nicotine depends on the mixture of the particular liquid-nicotine cartridge installed in the device.
Some testing suggests it’s not only the nicotine that may be dangerous. Certain e-cigarette devices may also release metals during use – including tin in some cases – as well as other impurities known to be toxic and/or carcinogenic. E-cigarettes can’t be sold to minors (although the specific age may vary from state to state), and all labeling must include health warnings; free samples and vending machine sales are also prohibited [source: Federal Register]. Despite the marketing claims that e-cigarettes are safer than smoking tobacco, researchers are finding e-cig users experience diminished lung function, airway resistance and cellular changes, regardless of whether or not they currently (or ever) smoke cigarettes. And in the lab, cells exposed to e-cigarette vapor show unhealthy changes similar to cells exposed to tobacco smoke.
So, what does all this mean? Smoking, whether with tobacco or e-cigarettes, is detrimental to your health. All family members need an understanding of the importance of a smoke-free home. Just like the little engine in the popular children’s book, you may have to say, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”
It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities – J. K. Rowling
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
Family & Consumer Sciences
1200-B W. Houston
Sulphur springs, TX 75483
903-885-3443 – phone