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Home »  Living Healthy »  World No Tobacco Day 2021: Second-Hand Smoke Can Have A Devastating Impact On Health, Here's How

World No Tobacco Day 2021: Second-Hand Smoke Can Have A Devastating Impact On Health, Here's How

World No Tobacco Day: This day tries to highlight the hazards linked with tobacco use and how it can harm your health. Secondhand smoke is also dangerous to one's health. Read here to know how.

World No Tobacco Day 2021: Second-Hand Smoke Can Have A Devastating Impact On Health, Heres How

World No Tobacco Day is observed on 31 may each year


  1. World No Tobacco Day is observed on May 31st
  2. Tobacco smoking is linked with several health hazards
  3. It can increase the risk of cancers and other chronic conditions

According to WHO reports, a typical cigarette contains more than 7000 chemicals. Regular cigarette smokers directly receive the brunt of these chemicals; however, what is not commonly acknowledged is that those exposed to second hand smoke are also at a high risk of health damage caused by it. Out of the entire chemical make-up of a cigarette, which contains substances like carbon monoxide arsenic, lead and formaldehyde, more than 65 chemicals are known to be cancer-causing and more than 250 chemicals can lead to other harmful health consequences. Since the lockdown, it has been observed that more people are taking to indoor smoking which can be damaging not only to the smoker's health but also to their family and neighbor's health.

The WHO estimates that close to 1.2 million people who are exposed to second hand cigarette smoke, die prematurely as a result of its impact on their health. Unfortunately, children and the elderly who otherwise have no role to play in this unhealthy habit are also included in these statistics.

World No Tobacco Day 2021: Effects of second hand smoke on adults/elderly and children

Second hand smoke includes both smoke exhaled by the active smoker and the smoke that comes out of the burning cigarette end. Both are bad, with direct smoke coming from the cigarette being worse for the passive smoker as they are getting the complete load of toxins from the cigarette. In closed areas, it is easy for the smoke to get trapped in the room, and bathroom ventilation can allow the smoke to reach other households.

Secondhand smoke can lead to heart and lung disease, increased risk of lung cancer, cancer of the sinus cavity, breast cancer, blood cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia. Second hand smoke can also trigger recurrent episodes of asthma, high blood pressure and cause a stroke in adults or in the elderly.

Also read: Understanding The Effect Of Smoking On Tuberculosis Treatment

Children who are exposed to second hand smoke are at a risk of suffering from bronchial infections, pneumonia, nasal and ear infections, and asthma attacks. They could also develop persistent, respiratory issues such as cough, cold, wheezing, runny nose, sneezing, etc. More severe and long-term impact could be restricted or delayed lung development and a higher risk of developing brain tumor in the later years. When a pregnant woman is exposed to cigarette smoke, there are higher chances that she will deliver a child with a below average birth weight. Newborns who are exposed to second hand smoke could suffer from SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome.

Also read: Expert Tells How Smoking Can Deteriorate Your Health In More Ways Than One


Second hand smoke can have a negative impact of children's health
Photo Credit: iStock

Tobacco addiction

Cigarettes in particular give an immediate 'high' or adrenaline rush which provides an escape from stress or boredom. The chemical nicotine is behind this. One of the main ingredients in a cigarette, nicotine is easily absorbed into the bloodstream and creates an adrenaline high along with the release of some dopamine (which is the 'happy hormone' or the hormone which creates the feeling of pleasure) in the body. Nicotine is extremely addictive. People find it difficult to break the habit of cigarette smoking because of the withdrawal symptoms they experience when the body stops receiving nicotine.

Also read: Know How Cigarette Smoking Can Affect Fertility

Nicotine withdrawal and coping

It is the responsibility of the smoker to realize the impact of smoking on himself as well as society. Similarly, it is also the role of society at large to help smokers break their habit in a safe and clinically advised manner, and to address the issues that lead people to start smoking in the first place. Typical withdrawal symptoms such as weight fluctuations, change in the sleeping cycles, flu like symptoms such as cough, cold, fever, etc (which are signs of the lungs clearing itself from years of tar residue), frequent mood swings, bowel issues such as loose motions or constipation are commonly experienced upon quitting cigarettes. Family and societal support are incredibly important to help divert people's minds when they feel the urge to smoke and to teach them healthier coping mechanisms.

(Dr. Pavan Yadav is a Consultant - Interventional Pulmonology, Sleep Medicine and Lung Transplantation at Aster RV Hospital)

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