Second Hand Smoke Threat to Children
If you grew up in the seventies like I did, you no doubt can remember walking into a family restaurant and there would be cigarette smoke clouding the air. Of course, back then no one, including our parents, knew the dangers of second hand smoke. What are the effects of second hand smoke on children, and could those of us exposed to it in the past be at risk today?
Smoking Laws Protect Children and Adult Non-Smokers
It wasn't a widely known fact that second hand smoke was a threat to children and adults until well into the 1960's. Even then, it seemed that the true danger of second hand smoke and smoking didn't become a focus of public attention for decades. Fortunately, over the years it has been determined just how dangerous inhaling second hand smoke can actually be. There is now documented proof of how dangerous second hand smoke affects a person and her general health. Children and non-smokers who are exposed to second hand smoke are inhaling the nicotine and other chemicals from the cigarette just like the smoker is. Doctors have now diagnosed second hand smoke lung cancers in individuals who never smoked a day in their lives. But what are the effects of second hand smoke on children?
Second hand smoke can be especially harmful for children because their lungs are still developing. Being exposed to second hand smoke has been documented by medical professionals as leading to serious health conditions in children such as asthma, emphysema, bronchitis and even pneumonia. Some kids have even developed a form of inner ear infection due to prolonged exposure to second hand smoke.
These types of findings have led to many public places taking a stand and start having a smoking ban. Most, if not all work environments now tell their employees that if they want to smoke, they must do so in designated areas outside the workplace. Some states, companies, and public fascilities ban indoor smoking all-together. Hospitals make it clear to all visitors and their staff that smoking is prohibited indoors. Schools have the exact same policy in effect, which gives piece of mind to parents that their children won't be exposed to any second hand smoke.
Does your state have a no smoking law that will protect children and non-smokers? If not, you may want to take action and write a letter to your government representative. Studies show that cigarettes can be hazerdous to human health even when when they aren't actively being smoked. The chemicals from smoking will saturate clothing, furniture, carpet, and other surfaces where they can still be absorbed by the body and cause illness. Choosing the non-smoking section of a restaurant isn't enough. Children are still at risk if there is any smoking going on inside the building.
If your city doesn't have a law that bans smoking in public places, you need to remain diligent about where you go and whether you or your children are being exposed to second hand smoke. Don't go to bars where smoking is allowed, even if there is a non-smoking area. The same holds true with restaurants. If you're out with friends who smoke, make it clear to them that you would prefer they don't smoke while indoors. If you can't avoid being around cigarette smoke, make sure to shower and change your clothes before interacting with your kids.
If you are smoker and have children, this choice not only effects you; it effects your kids. Maybe you don't smoke but have friends who come to visit who do. If so, you need to make it clear that smoking is not allowed in your home, and that if they want to associate with your children, they must wear clean clothes that haven't been worn for smoking. As we have all discovered (and it was a painful lesson to learn) second hand smoke kills, and it can threaten our children as well as ourselves.