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 market 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)