Cigarette smoking kills nearly 480,000 American each year. More than 41,000 of these deaths are caused by secondhand smoke. Nurse Rose Melendez, RN, director of the Emergency Department and Nursing Administration at Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center, explains how second-hand smoke affects the health of those around you.Rose Melendez

What exactly is secondhand smoke?

Nurse Rose: Secondhand smoke refers to the smoke from burning cigarettes pipes or cigars, as well as the smoke that’s been breathed out by the smoker. As a mom, I know that no parent would ever hand their child a cigarette, but inhaling secondhand smoke is harmful to both kids and adults. In fact, even a brief exposure to it can impact a person’s health.

How does second hand smoke impact kids?

Nurse Rose: Kids exposed to secondhand may experience a range of problems including:

  • Ear infections
  • More frequent and severe asthma attacks
  • Breathing problems like coughing, sneezing and shortness of breath
  • Respiratory infections like bronchitis or pneumonia

Eventually, adults who have been exposed to secondhand smoke long-term become at risk for a number of serious health conditions including heart disease, lung cancer and stroke.

How can we protect our loved ones from secondhand smoke?

Nurse Rose: Of course the best thing you can do for yourself and your family is to find support and resources to help you quit smoking completely.If you should continue to smoke or just want to reduce the amount of secondhand smoke you and your family are exposed to, follow these tips.

  • Do not allow smoking in our near your home or car, even with the windows down
  • Ensure your child’s daycare and schools are tobacco-free
  • Seek out restaurants and other public places that do not allow smoking
  • Teach your kids to avoid secondhand smoke

Quitting smoking is no small task. How should people go about it?

Nurse Rose: Tobacco is addictive, which makes smoking a tough habit to quit. One of the best ways to quit and ensure it sticks is to seek support from a professional smoking cessation program or online resources.

Thinking of quitting smoking? Set up your free consultation with one of Adventist HealthCare’s Tobacco Cessation Program counselors.

Additional Health Tips from Rose

Hear more health tips from Rose by tuning into WGTS 91.9 FM every Wednesday at 7:40 a.m.