Dangers of passive smoking

Dangers of passive smoking





Passive smoking is a mixture of smoke from a lit cigarette, cigar or pipe blown into the air by a smoker. It is referred to as passive smoking since the non smoker inhales the smoke form the lit cigarette or cigar involuntarily. Just like active smoking, passive smoking has serious health implications on the passive smoker. A passive smoker is a person who inhales smoke mixed with air involuntarily. Second hand smoke has over 4000 poisonous chemicals in its composition, including 50 chemicals that can cause cancer mainly lung cancer (Neil, 1987). Some of the chemicals are hydrogen cyanide which is used in rat poison, ammonia used as a detergent and Formalin which is used to preserve dead bodies.

Passive smokers are at a high risk of getting lung cancer after long term exposure to passive smoke. Similar to active smokers, some of the chemicals inhaled into the lungs affect the victims’ respiratory system and exposure to the smoke over a long period of time leads to lung cancer. Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer that has lead to the death of many people around the world. Other respiratory infections that one is exposed to are; stroke, heart disease and sinus cancer. Heart and respiratory conditions cause great pain to the victim and discomfort to the individual. Chemicals lead to destruction of red blood cells which are essential for oxygen transportation in the body. Precipitation of soot in the lungs leads to vessel constriction which causes stroke and high blood pressure due to overworking of the heart (Shephard, 1982).

Miscarriages, deformed babies, and babies being born with less weight than normal are also some of the toxic risks of passive smoking (Poswillo, 1992). Pregnant women are at a risk of having complications with their pregnancies and children born are usually not healthy compared to a normal infant. Young passive smokers die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome also known as crib death. Infants breathe faster than adults hence they take in more smoke; coupled with weak lungs they develop serious conditions which are fatal. Chemicals and toxins released into the air through passive smoking affect the chemical composition of DNA in the blood which leads to birth of children with deformed features or mental disorders.

Ear infection is a toxic problem that develops due to passive smoke. Passive smoke leads to the build up of fluids in the year which may lead to fungal infections in children (Poswillo, 1982). Smoke irritates the Eustachian tube which swells and causes deafness among children due to infection. Children born with respiratory conditions such as asthma develop worse conditions since passive smoke and its chemicals act as a catalyst leading to the increase in the rate of infection. Bronchitis and pneumonia affect most of the teenagers and people aged 18 years and above. Scientists also tend to believe that children exposed to passive smoke are at a greater risk of developing brain tumours, leukaemia and lymphoma.

From the above information it is concluded that passive smoking is associated with several toxic conditions which are fatal to human beings. Its effect is greater in small children and babies but still lethal to adults. The best way to contain the condition is to outlaw smoking in public areas and near children. This protects children and non smokers from the toxic conditions implicated by passive smoking.


Neil, I. K. Brunnenman, K.D Dodet, B, & Hoffman, D. (1987). Passive smoking. Lyon: International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Shephard, R. J. (1982). The Risks of passive smoking. New York: Oxford University Press.

Poswillo, D. E & Alberman, E. D. (1992). Effects of smoking on the foetus, neonate, and the child. Oxford University Press.