Third-Hand Smoking: Protecting Our Children From The Negative Effects

We all tell our kids not to smoke, but did you know they’re at risk for the harmful effects even if they never touch a cigarette? That’s because children are highly susceptible to third-hand smoking.

The Surgeon General has asserted there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke and the long-term indoor effects of smoking are now being classified as "third-hand-smoking." Cigarette smoke is a mix of more than 4,000 chemicals. It causes cancer, affects asthma and is especially harmful to children, babies, the elderly and those who have compromised immune systems. Third-hand smoke is residual tobacco smoke contamination, including the smell that clings to the hair, skin and clothes of smokers.

Third-hand smoke can accumulate in indoor living spaces where particles and residuals from cigarettes can saturate furniture, carpeting and coat existing living spaces from walls to wooden floors. A growing amount of evidence shows that tobacco toxins persist in indoor environments, cars and other enclosed areas long after the visible smoke is gone.

Non-smokers living with smokers have approximately a 25 percent increase in risk of death from heart attack and are also more likely to suffer a stroke. Some research even suggests that risks to non-smokers may be even greater than this estimate. Even at low levels, compounds in third-hand tobacco smoke can effect nerve and brain tissue.

We can protect our kids from the effects of third-hand smoke. If you smoke, quit now and talk to your kids about staying smoke-free. Avoid taking your children places that do not practice a no-smoking policy to limit or eliminate their exposure to others who smoke. 

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