What is secondhand smoke?
Secondhand smoke is the smoke from a burning cigarette, pipe or cigar. It is also the smoke exhaled by a smoker. When a person smokes near you, you breathe in secondhand smoke. Also known as environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), it can be recognized easily by its distinctive odor. 
Cigarettes produce about 12 minutes of smoke, yet the smoker may inhale only 30 seconds of smoke from their cigarette. The rest of the smoke lingers in the air for non-smokers and smokers to breathe. 
Secondhand smoke contains more than 4000 chemicals. Many of these chemicals are known to cause cancer. Many of us breathe it in whether we know it or not, in public places, around doorways of buildings and at work. Chemicals found in secondhand smoke include:
  • carbon monoxide (found in your car’s exhaust)
  • ammonia (found in window cleaners)
  • cadmium (found in batteries)
  • arsenic (found in rat poison)

Many people find ETS unpleasant, annoying, and irritating to the eyes and nose, headaches, coughing and wheezing, nausea and dizziness. You are also more likely to get colds. can trigger asthma attacks and increase your chances of getting bronchitis and pneumonia. If you are constantly exposed to ETS for a long time, you are more likely to develop and die from heart problems, breathing problems and lung cancer.

The fetus and newborn: Maternal, fetal and placental blood flow change when pregnant women smoke. Smoking mothers produce less milk, and their babies have a lower birth weight. If you smoke or are around second-hand smoke while you are pregnant, you are more likely to:
  • miscarry
  • deliver early
  • experience problems during labour
ETS can harm babies before and after they are born. Several chemicals in smoke can pass into your baby’s blood, affecting how your unborn baby develops. 
They are also at a higher risk of dying during childbirth or dying of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). If you’re breast-feeding, keep in mind that some chemicals from second-hand smoke are passed directly from breast milk to the baby.
Smoking during pregnancy causes 

Older children: Children are more at risk of getting sick than adults. They breathe faster than adults, so they absorb more harmful chemicals. Children’s immune systems, which protect them from getting sick, are not yet fully developed.

Children have less control over their surroundings than adults do. Unlike adults, children are less likely to leave smoky places by themselves. 
Compared to children of non-smokers, children who regularly exposed to smokers are more likely to suffer from:
  • coughing and wheezing
  • asthma and other breathing problems
  • bronchitis, croup and pneumonia
  • higher risk of heart disease and
  • take up smoking themselves.
  • birth defects such as cleft lip or palate.

The Ears: Inhaled smoke irritates and causes swelling and obstruction of the eustachian tube, which connects the back of the nose with the middle ear and thereby interfering with pressure equalization in the middle ear, leading to pain, fluid and infection. Exposure increases the number of ear infections a child will experience. 

The Brain: Children of mothers who smoked or were exposed to smoke during pregnancy are more likely to suffer behavioral problems such as hyperactivity. Modest impairment in school performance and intellectual achievement has also been demonstrated. 

Secondhand Smoke Causes Cancer

Risk of developing cancer from ETS is about 100 times greater than from outdoor cancer-causing pollutants? Did you know that ETS causes more than 3,000 non-smokers to die of lung cancer each year? While these facts are quite alarming for everyone, you can stop your child’s exposure to secondhand smoke right now.

Don’t forget about pets

Your pets are also at risk. Cats, dogs and other animals who regularly breathe in ETS have a greater chance of getting cancer. Because smoke particles can cling to their fur, they may also ingest smoke particles when grooming themselves with their tongues.
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