Did you know that it’s estimated that secondhand smoke is responsible for over 40,000 deaths each year in the United States? While some of these deaths are related to lung cancer, the majority are caused from heart disease linked to secondhand smoke. Tobacco smoke contains more than 4000 chemical compounds and at least 250 of those compounds have been proven to cause disease.
Secondhand smoke is extremely dangerous for children as they grow and develop. Some of the most common issues children experience from exposure to secondhand smoke include the following:
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Bronchitis or Pneumonia
Increase Asthma Attacks
Heavy or chronic coughing
Pregnant women who are exposed to secondhand smoke put their unborn babies at risk as well. The chemicals they breathe in directly impact the baby and can lead to serious health problems such as:
Low Birth Weight
Children who live in homes where the parents smoke are more likely to see long-term effects in their health. These children tend to pick up the habit for themselves at some point. Between daily exposure to secondhand smoke and smoking themselves, these children are much more likely to develop disease such as lung cancer.
Even when parents don’t smoke, it is still a challenge to protect children from secondhand smoke. They might still be exposed when playing at the house of a friend or relative. Shopping malls, restaurants, sporting events, playgrounds, public transportation – these are all places where children might possibly come in contact with secondhand smoke no matter how careful a parent is.
While it may sometimes feel like a lost cause, it’s still crucial that parents do their best to help their children avoid secondhand smoke. This is especially true for infants and toddlers who aren’t able to identify what secondhand smoke is yet. Help them steer clear of people who smoke. As your children grow older, teach them the dangers of secondhand smoke and give them tips and ideas on how to avoid it as much as possible.
If you are a parent that smokes, consider changing where and when you smoke so it has the smallest effect on your children. Be cautious of the example you are setting for them and remind yourself of the diseases and illnesses secondhand smoke can cause.