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Smoke sense

When someone smokes,those around him smoke too. Similarly,a pregnant woman,who is smoking,is actually subjecting her foetus to the harmful effects of smoking and it’s not difficult to understand that smoke from cigarettes...

Written by EXPRESS FEATURES SERVICE | Published: February 18, 2009 5:53 am

Passive smoking is known to be one of the main contributing factors in the development of childhood asthma,warns DR ARUN KOCHAR

When someone smokes,those around him smoke too. Similarly,a pregnant woman,who is smoking,is actually subjecting her foetus to the harmful effects of smoking and it’s not difficult to understand that smoke from cigarettes,which is so dreadful for the smoker,is also damaging to others. Passive smoking is a serious public health risk for both children and adults. It is also a major source of indoor air pollution. It was estimated that prolonged passive smoking increases risk of lung cancer by approximately 20 to 25 per cent. Smoking during pregnancy increases risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and passive smoking is known to be one of the main contributing factors in the development of childhood asthma. Female fertility can suffer because of passive smoking,making it harder to conceive a child.

Passive Smoking,a bane
Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 harmful chemicals,including at least,40 cancer-causing agents. It also contains carbon monoxide,a poisonous gas,which hinders the carrying of oxygen by blood. A non-smoker has to deal with “side stream” smoke from the burning tip of the cigarette and the “mainstream” smoke that has been inhaled and then exhaled into the environment by the smoker. The side stream smoke has about double the concentration of nicotine and tar as compared to mainstream smoke and is supposed to be more dangerous than the latter. Nearly four-fifth of the smoke that collects in a room due to a smoker is of the more harmful “side stream” type.

Annually,about 7,500 and 15,000 infants and young children up to 18 months of age need hospital admissions due to respiratory tract infections in United States alone due to passive smoking. American Heart Association now believes that passive smoke causes as many as 40,000 cardiac related deaths per year,3,000 lung cancer deaths in America and increases the risk of heart disease in an individual by 25 per cent.

Protect yourself
In recent years,perils of passive smoking have become widely acknowledged. Hence,public smoking has been legally forbidden. But for effective implementation of such regulations,community attitude must be reformed. A polite suggestion to your family member or friend could be made about the dangers of smoking in front of others. A signage forbidding smoking in your home and car could ring warning bells in the ears of the offenders. A pregnant lady must consider the injurious effects of passive smoking on her foetus. If you are a smoker,you could also choose to smoke at the designated place and never smoke around children and other people. A smoker should limit his smoking at home to one room,which is not visited by children and if they are puffing outside,they must avoid their exhaled smoke to drift in the other’s direction. Last,a smoker must always realize that for his disease others are not willing to compensate.

The writer is an interventional consultant cardiologist at Fortis Hospital,Mohali

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