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The health costs of second-hand smoke

Just as smokers do harm to their own health when they smoke, the non-smokers around them are also affected by this habit.

Research shows that even second-hand smoke increases the risk of developing certain cancers, heart disease, and lung disease. More than 800 non-smokers in Canada die from heart disease and cancer caused by second-hand smoke every year. In as little as a few minutes, your body begins to react to second-hand smoke - it doesn't take much to harm you. If you're pregnant, there's also a risk to your child. Smoking while pregnant and exposure to second-hand smoke can cause low birth weight and increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirths, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Kids and second-hand smoke
There are over 70 cancer-causing toxic substances in second-hand smoke. It's no surprise then that when kids breathe in smoke-filled air, they face a number of health risks.

The following is a list of various diseases and conditions that babies or children exposed to second-hand smoke are more likely to develop:

  • asthma
  • ear infections
  • respiratory infections (e.g., croup and pneumonia)
  • bronchitis
  • sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

Asthma, a chronic lung condition in which the airways become inflamed and swollen causing them to narrow, is becoming increasingly common among Canadian children. For children with asthma, second-hand smoke can trigger an attack and a serious asthma attack may require hospitalization and, in some cases, may even be fatal.

In addition to the risk of second-hand smoking, there is emerging evidence about the dangers of what is sometimes called third-hand smoke: the residual contaminants from tobacco smoke that linger long after the smoking stops. The faint smell of tobacco on your clothes and furniture indicates the presence of cancer-causing toxins.

All of this harm to smokers and their loved ones drives home one resounding point - butting out for good is in everyone's best interests. Read "Quitting smoking - methods that can help" to find out important information on how to quit.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2024. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

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