Secondhand smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke is a mixture of two forms of smoke; sidestream smoke from the lighted end of the cigarette and mainstream smoke that is exhaled by the smoker.
Smoke is smoke, right? Not exactly. Sidestream smoke has a higher concentration of carcinogens and is more toxic than mainstream smoke. Additionally, sidestream smoke is made up of smaller particles that make their way into the lungs and body cells easier.
Non-smokers who breathe in secondhand smoke take in nicotine and toxic chemicals the same way a smoker does. The more you are exposed to secondhand smoke, the higher the level of harmful chemicals in your body.
Tobacco smoke is a mixture of gases and particles containing more than 7000 chemical compounds; more than 250 are known to be harmful and 69 of them are known to cause cancer.
No level of secondhand smoke is safe. Every 2 in 5 children are exposed to secondhand smoke and one in four nonsmokers are exposed. Secondhand smoke causes death in over 41,000 nonsmokers each year. Exposure is most common in children ages 3 to 11, African Americans and those living below the poverty level.
Many states have smokefree laws which protect people in restaurants, bars and private worksites.
Avoiding secondhand smoke is important. Try to not be around people that smoke - even better try to encourage friends and family to quit smoking. Keep your home smoke free, especially if you have children.
For more information visit MMHD.