Non-smoking adults who are exposed to secondhand smoke (SHS) at home or at work have a 25 to 30 percent increased risk of developing lung cancer and other tobacco related diseases.
Secondhand smoke is the combination of smoke when smokers burn tobacco products such as cigarettes, bidis, and water papers and the smoke they exhaled.
Tobacco kills more than 8 million people each year, according to the World Health Organization. Meanwhile, around 1.2 million people die each year due to their exposure to secondhand smoke, while 7 million die annually from the direct use of tobacco.
HealthJustice Philippines, a nongovernment organization that works for the reduction of tobacco related diseases in the country, reiterated the warnings of public health experts that exposure to secondhand smoke is very dangerous for pregnant women and nursing mothers.
Studies have shown that pregnant mothers who are exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to have negative outcomes for their unborn babies. Their babies are at risk of having complications like lower birth rates, weaker lungs compared to other babies, increased susceptibility to sudden infant death syndrome and birth defects such as cleft lip and/or cleft palate.
Pregnant women who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at risk of having babies with reduced birth weight. Their maternal milk production is less in smokers compared with non-smokers, and the production decreases as the number of cigarettes smoked per day increases.
“What is more worrisome is that secondhand smoke exposure causes sudden infant death syndrome [SIDS] to otherwise healthy infants,” said former Health Secretary Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, SIDS is the sudden, unexplained, unexpected death of an infant in the first year of life. SIDS is the leading cause of death in otherwise healthy infants.
Likewise, women who smoke during pregnancy increases the risk for SIDS. Infants who are exposed to SHS after birth are also at greater risk for SIDS.
Chemicals in SHS, it added, appear to affect the brain as it interferes with the regulation of infants’ breathing.
Infants who die from SIDS have higher concentrations of nicotine in their lungs and higher levels of cotinine (a biological marker for secondhand smoke exposure) than infants who die from other causes, the US CDC stressed.
To prevent the occurrence of SIDS and protect their children, parents are encouraged not to smoke during pregnancy, not to smoke or allow smoking in your home or around your baby, and, place the baby on his or her back for all sleep times—naps and at night.
Galvez Tan, a trustee of HealthJustice Philippines, added that SHS also causes acute respiratory infections, middle ear disease, more severe asthma, respiratory symptoms, and slowed lung growth. With this, he appealed for the adoption of stringent smokefree policies in public or workplaces to protect pregnant and nursing women and their children from the harms of secondhand smoke exposure.
The former health secretary emphasized that this is necessary given that there is no safe level of exposure to SHS tobacco smoke due to the more than hundred toxic chemicals that harm the human body.
Published by: Businessmirror CLAUDETH MOCON-CIRIACO