Second-Hand Smoke - Is It A Passive Killer?

By Lindsay M Fox

Most people know that smoking
is bad for the health. Cigarette
smoking has been linked with
cancer, heart and lung diseases
as well as strokes. You probably
have given up this habit or
avoided it entirely because of this
awareness.

However, if you
spend a lot of time in the vicinity
of a person who smokes frequently then you will not be
able to protect yourself from the negative effects of
cigarette smoke. It is an unfortunate fact that all kinds of
cigarette smoke, even secondhand smoke, are
dangerous to the health.

Secondhand smoke from cigarettes is known as a
passive killer because it increases your risk for all the
diseases that regular smokers are susceptible to. It is
shocking to know that passive smokers have a 25
percent higher risk of developing heart disease than
people who are not exposed to any cigarette smoke.
Obviously the risk is less than if you were a regular
smoker, but it exists nonetheless and that too for no fault
of yours.

Three categories of people have to be especially careful
about staying away from secondhand smoke because
they are more vulnerable to its negative effects. They
are:

- Pregnant women: When a pregnant woman inhales
cigarette smoke, it goes into her baby's bloodstream
eventually. This can lead to low birth weight babies who
are at greater risk of having attention deficit disorders
when they are older.

- Children: Kids who grow up in households where
smoking is the norm tend to develop a lot of respiratory
ailments. Not only do these ailments slow down their
physical growth but they also keep them away from
school and other activities longer than necessary. They
are also more likely to start smoking early than kids who
were not exposed to environmental tobacco smoke.

- People suffering from respiratory illnesses: If a person's
lungs and airways are already diseased or inflamed then
exposing them to anything but clean air will worsen the
condition.

- People suffering from high blood pressure: Their blood
pressure condition will only worsen if they breathe in air
which has been polluted with tobacco smoke. Inhaling
cigarette smoke results in higher cholesterol levels and
this in turn raises the blood pressure.

As you can see, you do need to stay away from cigarette
smoke in any form in order to look after your health. You
need to be very firm about protecting yourself from this
passive but dangerous killer.
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