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Secondhand Smoke

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What Is Secondhand Smoke?

Everyone knows that smoking is a bad idea. But did you know that being around someone who smokes is also bad for your health?

Secondhand smoke comes from the smoke that smokers exhale and the smoke floating from the end of the cigarette, cigar, or pipe.

What Are the Dangers of Secondhand Smoke?

Secondhand smoke contains thousands of chemicals — from arsenic to ammonia — that are toxic to the body. Breathing in secondhand smoke makes you more likely to have:

  • respiratory infections (like pneumonia)
  • asthma 
  • coughing, sore throats, sniffling, and sneezing
  • cancer
  • heart disease

What Can I Do About Secondhand Smoke?

Chances are, you know someone who smokes. Whether you smoke or you're regularly around someone who does, it's never healthy to breathe in tobacco smoke. Even occasional or short-term exposure can take a toll on the body.

If you smoke, try to quit. Quitting isn't easy because smoking is highly addictive. But plenty of programs and people can help you kick the habit. And just consider the benefits: You'll look, feel, and smell better, not to mention you'll have more money saved to go out and show off the newer, healthier you!

If you don't smoke, ask the smokers you know to take these two simple steps:

  1. Take all their smoke breaks outside — away from other people, especially kids and anyone who's pregnant. Smoke lingers in the air for hours after cigarettes are put out. That means if a smoker is puffing away anywhere inside, other people are inhaling that smoke too. Because smoke sticks to people and their clothing, when smokers come back inside, they should wash their hands and change their clothing, especially before holding or hugging children.
  2. Never smoke in a car with other people. Even exhaling out the window does little, if anything, to reduce smoke exposure.

Just as a person who smokes chooses to light up, nonsmokers have a choice too — to walk away from other people's smoke at home, school, work, restaurants, even friends' and family members' houses. New laws are making it easier all the time for nonsmokers to lead smoke-free lives.

Taking a stand on secondhand smoke will keep you much healthier and might even help someone you love think about going smoke-free.

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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