Busting myths about secondhand smoke beliefs

Target Tobacco Action Group wants to share some important facts about secondhand smoke.

First of all, what is secondhand smoke? It is smoke from the burning end of the cigarette, pipe or cigar combined with the smoke that is breathed out by the smoker. You are exposed anytime a person smokes near you.

Why is it dangerous? Secondhand smoke causes early death and disease in children and adults who, themselves, do not use tobacco.

One study estimated it causes about 3,000 deaths from lung cancer and about 46,000 deaths from heart disease each year.

The more of it you breathe it the more likely you are to get sick. There is no safe amount of secondhand smoke.

Some consequences of breathing it include nasal and sinus cancer, eye nose and throat irritation, coughing and congestion, low birth weight for infants, asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis, ear infections and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

In addition, children who live with secondhand smoke are sick more often than those who don’t.

Now, let’s dispel some myths:

The Distance Myth: When there is secondhand smoke in your home or car, there is no safe distance between the smoke and you or your children. Because air circulates throughout the spaces, smoking anywhere is the same as smoking everywhere. Cars are particularly small spaces and very dangerous places for secondhand smoke.

The Ventilation Myth: Opening a window or turning on a fan does not remove the poisonous chemicals in secondhand smoke. Not even the most expensive air-filtration system is able to clear the air of those nasty chemicals in secondhand smoke.

The Odor Myth: Spraying air freshener will remove the smell of secondhand smoke but not the chemicals in the air. Those poisonous chemicals stay in the air for up to three hours after the cigarette is put our and remain for weeks on clothes, furniture, drapes, curtains and carpets. The air is still not safe to breathe.

The Quit Myth: Quitting is the only way to protect your children, pets (Please don’t forget your pets, they breathe too!) and other loved ones is also a myth. While it is a great way to protect everyone’s health, if you are not ready to quit there is another option and it is one step: Take one step outside before smoking. It may not always be convenient, but it is always worth the effort!

For more information about secondhand smoke or the One Step program, visit www.RaiseSmokeFreeKids.com.

If you are looking for information and support around quitting you can call the CO Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or call your Target Tobacco Action Group at 565-3056. We are always ready to help you keep your world safe and healthy. Please make your home and car smoke-free zones!