Does Second Hand Smoke Kill?

secondhand-smoke-small  Does second hand smoke exposure really kill? Since 1999, the national government along with local governments have implemented many regulations on public areas restricting smoking. Researchers have linked second hand smoking to asthma, pulmonary defects, and even cardiovascular disease. The Americans for Nonsmoker’s Rights reported 53,800 deaths per year due to extreme exposure.

A cigarette contains up to 7,000 chemicals and 69 of those are carcinogenic. Second hand smoke includes the smoke emanating from the butt of the cigarette and the smoke exhaled by the smoker. Both types are just as detrimental to the respiratory system if inhaled.  According to the U.S. Surgeon General, living with a smoker increases a nonsmoker’s chance of lung cancer approximately 30%.

With all signs pointing to danger, the National Cancer Institute conducted a large prospective study of the correlation between lung cancer and smoking. The study tracked 76,000 women over multiple decades. At its culmination, 901 participants contracted cancer. Surprisingly, no statistically significant evidence linking passive smoking to cancer was found. Researchers do not deny the obvious relation; however, this large randomized population showed no significant signs of side effects of smoke exposure.  The conclusion of this particular study was that undeniably smoking causes lung cancer. The result regarding second hand smoke involvement may have been a false negative, since other similar studies have generated positive results.

Another study conducted over ten years by the International Agency for Research in Cancer (IARC) uncovered more substantial results against second hand smoking. The researchers exposed the tobacco industry’s disproportionate funds invested in experiments designed to disprove the results. The tobacco industry was essentially attempting to undermine the IARC’s work in order to maintain its extremely profitable marsmokeket in European countries. So there arises the possibility of misconstrued results in previous studies that claimed to have no link between passive smoking and lung cancer.

Despite the restrictions set in place to curb second hand smoking effects, 1 in every 4 nonsmokers will be exposed. 2 of every 5 children will be exposed during the vital development years, which could lead to respiratory defects later in life. Cities and poorer neighborhoods show the greatest numbers affected. Smoking is just plain bad-whether you are the one doing it, or coughing in the cloud of someone else. (National Cancer Institute)



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5 thoughts on “Does Second Hand Smoke Kill?

  1. Christina Rae Locurto

    Very interesting blog post, relating to a topic that we discussed in class. I always hated the argument smokers used in defense of smoking, saying that they only person they are affecting is themselves, so therefore they should be allowed to smoke all they want. Often times though, the smoke they are releasing into the atmosphere is just as deadly to the people around them too. I think it’s a bit selfish on the smoker’s part too; why should we suffer the consequences for smoke we don’t even want to ingest? I found thisarticle that talks about how secondhand smoking kills. It’s worth a read, and it’s pretty informative.

  2. Michael A Lupo

    The topic of second-hand smoke bothers me to no extent. When people want to do something like smoking which is detrimental to their own health, fine. But when their stupidity begins to affect me is when I draw the line. I as well as science see no benefit to smoking. It can only shorten your life, cause cancer, and affect your appearance. Luckily neither of my parents are smokers so I don’t have to worry about that around my house. However, here at Penn State, it seems like everywhere I turn someone is ripping a cigarette. I can’t stand walking near them and will try to hold my breath until I pass and the smoke clears. It is a very scary fact that you mention 1 in every 4 non-smokers will be affected by secondhand smoke at some time in their life. I realize that the tobacco industry is very beneficial beneficial to our economy, but at some point, someone has to smarten up and ban cigarette sales. This way cigarette smokers cannot harm the future lives of others because of their second-hand smoke. I hope this day comes soon, but I realize that it may just be a pipe-dream.

  3. Taryn S Linker

    I find this extremely interesting as I’ve always hated the smell of cigarette smoke ever since I was a kid. I used to purposely cough around smokers so they got the hint. The only thing that I can think of being worse is thirdhand smoke. Thirdhand smoke is when smoke clings onto furniture, carpets, hair, clothing, etc. It cannot be aired out by opening the window or spraying air freshener. My grandfather used to smoke in the house and the scent would often be unbearable. It was extremely detrimental to his health as well as others around him. Here is a post that talks about thirdhand smoke in detail:

  4. Caroline Sorrentino

    This topic is so relatable especially here at Penn State. I am actually shocked and disgusted at how many students alone smoke cigarettes here on campus. I always make an effort to low key but at the same time make it known that I am passing them so I can get out from the back of their smoke cloud. I don’t like the smell nor the effects that it can cause everyone else. Not even that, but smoking in general is pollution. It’s not only bad for us as human beings but it is a cause of global warming. I feel that some smokers only think of themselves in these situations when really it is affecting literally everyone!! The question on the test that was also mentioned in class about their grandma living a long life despite “smoking like a chimney” reminded me of my own grandmother who really has been smoking for practically her whole life and is perfectly healthy (from what we know…). But, this is just a classic example of chance, and the same goes for a child getting cancer from just a little bit of second hand smoke here and there. What makes someone more susceptible to cancer than another?

  5. Avery Elizabeth Holland

    This topic interested me because I absolutely hate it when I accidentally breathe in smoke from someone else’s deadly habit. If I don’t choose to smoke, why am I being affected by it? I agree with you that the National Cancer Institute’s results regarding potential second hand smoke dangers was probably a false negative given the several other studies which concluded it to be positive. I find it extremely unfair and frightening that 1 in 4 non- smokers will be affected at some point in their lifetime. Hopefully these statistics will help smokers quit by realizing that their choice not only affects their life, but the lives of those around them as well.

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