Have you ever come home with the stench of smoke just protruding from your clothes? Have you ever coughed and choked as you inhaled a cloud of smoke as a group of immature smokers passed by? If you have, then you would agree that neither one of these experiences is very pleasant, and could have been avoided if smoking was banned in public places.
Everyone knows that smoking is not the healthiest activity for your body. The inhaled fumes go directly to the smoker’s lungs and can result in a number of terminal illnesses in the long run. There’s no doubt that your body would appreciate it if you would just set that lighter down. However, one thing that everyone forgets, or chooses to ignore, is that second hand smoking is just as harmful.
Second hand smoking comes in two forms, which are sidestream smoke and mainstream smoke. Sidestream smoke is the smoke that comes from the lightened end of a cigarette, pipe, cigar, or whatever the case may be. Mainstream smoke is the smoke exhaled by the smoker. When non-smokers inhale these fumes, they are being exposed to involuntary smoking, or passive smoking. These chemicals are also extremely unhealthy for your body, especially as they accumulate in your system the more you breath them in.
Here’s something you may not know. According to the American Cancer Society, tobacco smoke itself contains more than 7,000 chemical compounds. More than 250 of these chemicals are known to be harmful and at least 69 are known to cause cancer. Just keep that in mind the next time you sit next to your buddy while he/she smokes away. But before you do, let me throw some more facts at you. Second hand smoking has been linked to lung cancer, and there is also some evidence that it might be linked to lymphoma, leukemia, and brain tumors in children, as well as cancers of the larynx (vocal box), pharynx (throat), nasal sinuses, brain, bladder, rectum, stomach, and even breasts. These side effects are very dangerous and very real.
For example, I’m sure all of you have come across heavy smokers, including women, who have developed rough, raspy voices. Yeah, that’s not normal. That happens because their vocal cords have been damaged by all of the smoke they have inhaled.
But not only is second hand smoking negatively affecting the generations of today, but also the generations of tomorrow. This is because of the fact that pregnant women exposed to second hand smoking are proven to often have difficulties with the birth and health of their child. Birth weight is the most important determinant for the survival, health, growth, and development of an infant. Low birth weight is linked to fetal and neonatal and cognitive development, and risk of chronic diseases in later life. Smoke is considered a dangerous risk factor for low birth weight in newborn infants. In a study done in Malaysia, a total of 420 pregnant women were tested, 209 exposed to second hand smoking, 411 non-exposed. The experiment concluded in the fact that not only was there a significant reduction in birth weight because of second hand smoking (12.9 grams for each unit of cigarette), but more exposed women had premature deliveries. In another study done, researchers found that exposure to second hand smoke increased a non-smoking pregnant woman’s chance of having a stillborn baby by 23 percent and increased the risk of delivering a baby with birth defects by 13 percent. In some cases, pregnancies may result in SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), which is the sudden, unexpected death of an infant within its first year of life.
As you can see, smoking is not just a personal choice or bad habit, it is something that affects everyone, and encompasses the well being of people other than the smoker. You do not have to have the cigarette in your mouth to suffer from its deadly consequences. So not only do the smokers tear themselves down, but they also drag along with them other adults, kids, and even babies that are yet to be born. It is with much urgency that I say that smoking must be banned in public places.