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Are You Endangering Your Child's Health?
Could Be Harmful
To Your Children!
Every year, exposure to secondhand smoke causes thousands of children to suffer serious ailments, including pneumonia, bronchitis, ear infections, and other respiratory illnesses.
Studies have shown that during the first two years of life, babies of parents who smoke suffer a much higher rate of lung diseases than babies with nonsmoking parents.
What Is Secondhand Smoke?
Secondhand smoke escapes from the lit end of a cigarette or is exhaled by a smoker. It is also called passive smoke, involuntary smoke, and environmental tobacco smoke (ETS).
Every time you smoke you release poisons into the air. Not only do you
inhale these, but near by nonsmokers, --including your children-- inhale a large amount of the health-damaging chemicals.
Young Children Are At Greatest Risk
Children under 18 months of age are at the greatest risk of suffering serious illnesses from secondhand smoke. Every year, thousands of infants and children are hospitalized for secondhand smoke-related illnesses.
A landmark 1993 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report on environmental tobacco smoke classified secondhand smoke in the agency's "most dangerous" category of cancer-causing substances. The EPA concluded:
"The children of parents who smoke, compared with children of non-smoking parents, have an increased frequency of respiratory infections, increased respiratory symptoms, and slightly smaller rates of increased lung function as the lung matures." Research has proven that children who are exposed to secondhand smoke have about a 40 percent higher rate of new ear infections, and when they get ear infections they last nearly one and one half times longer than those not exposed to smoke.
Not only do parents who smoke place their children at risk, a pregnant woman who smokes also puts her unborn child's health at risk by "smoking for two." During pregnancy, nicotine byproducts and other dangerous chemicals in smoke enter the mothees bloodstream, then pass into the unborn baby's body.
Secondhand Smoke In Your Home
We spend more time in our homes than anywhere else. Nobody likes the thought of cancer-causing chemicals circulating throughoutourhouses and apartments. Yet according to the EPA, that is exactly what happens when someone lights a cigarette in your home.
Ventilation systems in homes cannot filter and circulate air well enough to eliminate secondhand
smoke. Blowing smoke away from children, going into another room to smoke, or opening a window may
help reduce children's exposure, but will not protect them from the dangers of secondhand smoke.
Benefits of a Smoke-Free Home
The greatest benefit of a smokefree home is that you will remove from your home all the health risks associated with secondhand tobacco smoke.
- When your home is smoke-free it will "smell" much better.
- Your food will taste better.
- You'll spend less time, energy, and money cleaning your curtains, walls, windows, and mirrors.
- Your insurance rates may be lower -- check with your insurance company.
- Even your pets will be healthier. Secondhand smoke increases the risk of lung cancer in dogs.
What Can You Do
FACT SHEET presents the latest information about health and environmental topics, including DHEC programs and activities, in a one-page format. For further information or additional copies, contact:
- If you smoke, quit.
- If others in your household smoke, ask them to quit. If they can't or won't quit, ask them to smoke outside the house.
- If you are a smoker and visit friends or other family members, don't endanger their health by lighting up.
- When eating in a restaurant, always ask to be seated in the No Smoking section.
- Make your home smoke-free.
- Support strong clean indoor air laws in your community.
- Demand your right to a smoke-free work environment.
- Teach your children about the dangers of smoking.
- Encourage your children's schools to become completely smoke-free.
Office of External Affairs
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control
2600 Bull Street
Columbia, S.C. 29201
Department of Health and Environmental Control