How Smoking Harms Those Around You
As we spend more time outside over the summer, many parents express frustration when they see other parents smoking around their kids in public places like amusement parks. Nurse Rose Melendez, RN, shares how second-hand smoke can harm others, especially children.
How common is smoking in the U.S.?
Nurse Rose: While smoking has indeed become less common in recent years, an estimated 36.5 million Americans still smoked in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Additionally, about 1 in 5 children are exposed to second-hand smoke at home, and 41,000 people died from exposure to second hand smoke in 2015, according to the CDC.
What kinds of health problems can second-hand smoke cause?
Nurse Rose: Kids exposed to second-hand smoke experience may experience a range of health problems, including the following.
- Breathing problems like coughing, sneezing and shortness of breath
- Ear infections
- More frequent and severe asthma attacks
- Respiratory infections like bronchitis or pneumonia
What about long-term problems?
Nurse Rose: Even once the child is no longer exposed to second-hand smoke, that exposure can cause long-term health issues. Kids exposed to second-hand smoke are:
- At higher risk of developing lung cancer and heart disease
- More likely to become smokers
Is it safe for parents to smoke in another room?
Nurse Rose: Absolutely not. Even smoking in another room or on the patio can double your child’s risk of developing heart disease as an adult. That smoke lingers and seeps into your clothing, furniture and walls. The best thing parents can do is not smoke or quit smoking.
What can nonsmokers do to protect their kids from second-hand smoke?
Nurse Rose: Try these simple step to protect your family from second-hand smoke,
- Do not allow anyone to smoke in or near your home
- Do not allow anyone to smoke in your car
- Ensure your child’s daycare and/or school are tobacco-free
- Teach your child to stay away from people smoking