Second hand smoke exposure in the US was thoroughly documented last week in the CDC report noted in many media stories.
The report evaluated national data from 1999 through 2008, and estimates that 88 million non smokers greater than age 3 were exposed to second hand smoke. The authors note that the decline in exposure within the US has slowed pointing to the tapering off in our national public health efforts to control cigarette smoking.
Despite the increasing attention paid to obesity and the economic burden on society due to obesity, tobacco remains a leading cause of premature mortality, cancer onset. lost productivity, and health care expenditures. Continued efforts at smoking cessation and state-wide comprehensive laws to limit exposure in work places and public places can help avoid serious health effects.
The health effects of second hand smoke are are well documented.
Risks of secondhand smoke
Smokers not only risk their own health, they can also impact the health of those around them. Secondhand smoke (also known as environmental tobacco smoke) has been shown to increase the risk of disease in nonsmokers. For example, secondhand smoke increases the risk of:
- Lung cancer
- Heart disease
and in children, secondhand smoke exposure increases the risk of:
- Sudden infant death syndrome
- Reduced lung function
- Respiratory infections
- Ear infections in children
The good news is that many of tobacco’s harmful effects can be reduced by smoking cessation, and benefits of quitting can be seen almost immediately. Quitting smoking is the single best thing that smokers can do to improve their health, and over 46 million Americans have successfully quit.
There are many rewards that come from quitting
Within the first day of quitting:
· Blood pressure decreases
· Carbon monoxide levels drop
· Risk of heart attack decreases
Within the first year after cessation:
· Pulmonary function increases
· Coughing and wheezing diminish
· Respiratory infections decrease
Within the first 2 years:
· The risk of dying from cardiovascular disease becomes half that of a current smoker.
· The risk of stroke falls.
With sustained abstinence of 5-15 years:
· The risk of premature death drops significantly.
· Risk of oral cancer is cut in half, with continued decline over time.
· Esophageal cancer risk drops.
· Laryngeal cancer risk decreases.
· Bladder cancer risk drops by 50%.
· The risk of cervical cancer in women falls significantly.
· The risk of pancreatic cancer is reduced.
· Lung cancer risk falls to 1/3-1/2 the risk of continued smokers, and continues to decrease with time.
· Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease mortality is reduced.
· The risk of cardiovascular disease is similar to that of someone who has never smoked.
· The risk of stroke is reduced to the level of a never smoker.
· The risk of peripheral vascular disease falls.
· Sets a good example for children and other adults
· Helps prevent the exposure of others to second-hand smoke
It is important for health care providers and patients to recognize that there are significant health benefits for smoking cessation for men and women at any age, even in older individuals and those who have been diagnosed with smoking-related illness. For example, cessation in people with known coronary heart disease results in a decreased risk of recurrent heart attack and cardiovascular death. For patients with peripheral vascular disease, quitting smoking leads to a drop in risk of amputation following surgery, and increased exercise tolerance. Health care providers should counsel all smokers and tobacco users to quit as soon as possible.
Because of the many health risks to the mother and baby, it is especially important that women not smoke during pregnancy. While rates have been decreasing, over 10% of women continue to smoke during pregnancy. Of those who do quit, about two thirds restart within the first year after delivery.
Quitting smoking before pregnancy provides the greatest health benefits. However, cessation at any point can benefit the mother and child. Women who quit before or during pregnancy decrease the risk of preterm delivery, premature rupture of membranes, and low birth weight, compared to continued smokers. In addition, women who quit smoking before delivery also reduce the risk of exposing their children to second-hand smoke and the many health problems associated with it.
for help stopping smoking many resources are available. Among the most helpful web-based resources is the site become an ex , where you can relearn life without cigarettes.