There’s nothing that upsets me more than when I see my son coughing from a stranger’s second-hand smoke. I like to think that I do what I can to make sure he’s healthy, active, and away from any toxic environments. Secondhand smoke carries a ton of disgusting things that can harm my son. Even if you’re not a smoker, and I can’t stress this enough, it’s important to keep the nasty stuff away from your lungs. Not only is it smelly and gross, but it’s also really bad for your system. Over the past few decades, more and more studies have demonstrated the harmful effects of secondhand smoking. It’s enough to make me lightheaded!
The Dangers of Secondhand Smoke
Smoke has a mind of its own! Just like a cat’s tail, smoke travels freely, often invading our lungs without asking. Sure the little coughs that come with it are bad, but what about what’s actually inside the smoke? First, let’s get all the bad stuff out of the way.
Cigarettes are made with synthetic drugs. I’m sure we’ve all seen pictures—if not real examples—of what smoking does to lungs. And you’ve probably heard all about how packed tobacco is with nasty chemicals and toxins, but do you know what’s actually inside of them?
- Formaldehyde: Yep, this is the same stuff used in the embalming process.
- Benzene: A component found in gasoline.
- Hydrogen cyanide: This is a highly poisonous gas that is literally used as an ingredient in pest controls and chemical warfare.
- Carbon monoxide. We all know about this stuff.
The worst part is that, in reality, the smoker doesn’t inhale most of the smoke given off by the cigarette; it circulates in the air for everyone else to breathe in.
Sometimes, you simply can’t avoid second-hand smoke. When a stranger passes you or you turn a corner to be hit in the face with a fresh puff of cigarette smoke, it can’t be avoided. But when it comes to your own home, you can take a stand to make sure that you and your family are breathing clean, healthy air.
1. Don’t allow smoking in the house or your car. This has become a general rule of thumb for most guests, but it’s not always assumed. If you see a guest getting ready to light up, politely ask them to step outside.
2. Take a chance and try to get your loved ones to quit. Not only is it exponentially better for them, but it’s healthier for those around them, too.
3. Choose smoke-free establishments. Not every business maintains a no-smoking policy—though many now do—so it’s wise to make sure you’re entering a healthy environment.
4. Simply stay as far away from smoke as possible. If you do live with a smoker, just avoid them as much as possible while they are smoking. The further away, the better.
Keeping Your Home Clean
You always know when you step into a smoker’s house, or even meet someone who smokes. Cigarette—and cigar—smoke weaves itself into the fibers of clothing, carpets, and furniture. The harmful pollutants stick to fabrics; the chemicals themselves settle into your home. When the perpetual smell of tobacco smoke is within the home, so are the nasty, harmful chemicals. In fact, nonsmokers living or working around secondhand smoke increase their risk of heart disease by 25-30%. If you, or a family member or roommate, smoke in your home, you can take measures against the harmful chemicals circulating in the air.
There are some air purifiers that are specifically designed to eliminate tobacco smoke. But don’t be completely fooled: most purifiers don’t come standard with this capability, so look out for the best ones. For the best circulation in your home, get the top-notch filters for your home air system. But truth be told, neither one of these options are better than simply keeping smoke outside of the home.
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