Protect Children From Second-Hand Smoke
Why do we need to protect children from second-hand smoke? There are a number of reasons we should all be in agreement about this. First, an adult has a choice, whereas children do not have the same choice to avoid second-hand smoke. In the U.S. the single most preventable cause of early death is from cigarette smoking. Each year approximately 400,000 Americans die from complications directly attributed to cigarette smoking. Around 3,000 develop lung cancer and die due to exposure to second-hand smoke.
Second-hand smoke consists of the smoke emitted by burning tobacco products and also the smoke exhaled by a smoker. The smoke is made up of many small particles as well as chemicals that are released into the air. This smoke can linger in the air of a house long after the cigarette has been put out. In the home, this smoke can be inhaled by anyone in the home for a long time after the smoker has finished a cigarette. Children in many instances cannot just leave the home to get away from the smoke and noxious fumes, and so are exposed to them without even knowing they are at risk. Second-hand smoke has been shown to cause lung cancer, respiratory tract infections such as asthma, and ear infections in children.
Effects of second-hand smoke
Children usually suffer the most effects and consequences of second-hand smoke. This is why it’s so important to protect children from second-hand smoke. In addition to the increased risks to develop asthma and ear infections, second-hand smoke also affects the development of children.
Second-hand smoke can cause middle ear infections in children by irritating the Eustachian tube. This can cause the tube to become blocked with fluid, leading to infection in the inner ear. Inner ear infections can be very painful to children. Frequent inner ear infections can lead to hearing loss if left untreated.
Childhood asthma can be the result of exposure to second-hand smoke in early life. Children who develop asthma also have more frequent and more severe upper respiratory infections. These can include sinusitis, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Childhood asthma can continue to get worse if the child is repeatedly exposed to second-hand smoke.
Smoking while pregnant can affect the fetus in negative ways too. Smoking increases the risk of some birth defects. It also increases the risk of premature birth and low birth weight babies. Smoking during pregnancy affects the development of the lungs and brains of exposed fetuses. Remember, anything that goes into the mother’s blood when pregnant also is part of the babies blood as well.
The easiest way to prevent these complications for your child is to protect children from second-hand smoke. If you are pregnant, don’t smoke for the safety of your unborn child. If you have children at home, either quit or go outside to smoke. Going outdoors at least prevents the build-up of second-hand smoke inside the house that children are then forced to inhale. Don’t smoke in your car. Children are exposed in the car when you smoke, and the car is a much smaller space than your home. If you really would like to quit smoking most states have help in the form of free nicotine replacement therapy and stop smoking classes, as well as other resources. Take advantage of those public resources if you are ready to quit. If you aren’t ready to quit, take the suggested steps to protect children from second-hand smoke. Their health may depend on it.