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Second hand smoking

Breathing in other people’s smoke is known as exposure to second-hand smoke or passive smoking. When you smoke, it’s not just your health that’s put at risk, but the health of anyone around you.

Most second-hand smoke comes from the tip of a burning cigarette. This makes it almost impossible to direct smoke away from those around you. If you only smoke in one area of your home the harmful chemicals will spread rapidly from room to room and can linger for up to 5 hours. If you smoke in a confined space such as a car, you’re exposing your fellow passengers to even more harmful chemicals.

Risks to other people

People exposed to second-hand smoke face the same dangers as smokers themselves. They too inhale the same poisonous gases and thousands of toxic chemicals found in tobacco smoke. Their risk of developing smoking-related diseases will also increase.
Pregnant women exposed to second-hand smoke will pass on harmful chemicals to their babies. Second-hand smoke is also particularly harmful for children, and others with long-term heart and/or breathing conditions.

Short-term effects

Some short-term effects from exposure to second-hand smoke include:

  • Coughing.
  • Headaches.
  • Eye and nasal irritation.
  • Sore throat.

Long-term effects

Long-term effects from exposure to second-hand smoke include increased risk of:

  • Coronary heart disease (risk increased by 25-30%).
  • Lung cancer (risk increased by 20-30%) and other cancers.
  • Stroke (risk increased by 20-30%).
  • Increased risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other breathing problems.

Breathing in second-hand smoke makes the blood stickier, meaning there is an increased risk of blood clots forming, even with brief exposure. A blood clot can block an artery and cause:

  • Heart attacks.
  • Strokes.
  • Angina.
  • Complete heart failure.

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Please note that the figures above are simply an indication of how much you could save based on the cost of a packet of cigarettes and your daily intake.