Tobacco

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the Truth about smoking

Nearly 40% of the pediatric population is exposed to secondhand smoke (SHS). In addition, an estimated 80-90% of adult smokers began smoking during adolescence. Parents play a very important role in protecting their children from smoke exposure and preventing tobacco use.

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Smoking Hurts Everyone

Many people think that the only people harmed by tobacco use are smokers who have smoked for a long time. The fact is that tobacco use can be harmful to everyone. This includes unborn babies and people who don’t smoke.
If you smoke cigarettes, cigars, or pipes, or use smokeless tobacco like chew and snuff, quit! It’s the best thing you can do for yourself and for everyone around you is quit.

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Smoking Harms Infants & Children

When parents expose their children to smoke, or let others do so, they are putting their children’s health in danger and sending a message that smoking is OK.
Secondhand smoke is the smoke a smoker breathes out. It’s also the smoke that comes from the tip of lit cigarettes, pipes, and cigars. It contains about 4,000 different chemicals, many of which cause cancer. Because of exposure to secondhand smoke, about 3,400 nonsmokers die from lung cancer every year and 22,000 to 69,000 nonsmokers die from heart disease every year.

Breathing in smoke can cause:

  • Asthma
  • Respiratory infections (like bronchitis and pneumonia)
  • Lung problems
  • Ear infections
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) (for babies younger than 1 year)

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that families keep smoke-free homes and vehicles at all times. This is the only way to fully prevent exposure to the toxic chemicals in secondhand smoke.

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Smoking Harms Unborn Babies

Smoking during pregnancy or exposing pregnant women to smoke can lead to many serious health problems for an unborn baby, such as:

 

  • Miscarriage
  • Premature birth (born not fully developed)
  • Lower birth weight than expected (possibly meaning a less healthy baby)
  • SIDS
  • Learning problems and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
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Smoking Harms Teens

90% of smokers start before age 18. About one-third of them will die of a smoking-related disease. Other teen smokers may experience the same health problems as adult smokers, including:  

  • Addiction to nicotine
  • Long-term cough
  • Faster heart rate
  • Lung problems
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Less stamina and endurance
  • Higher risk of lung cancer and other cancers
  • More respiratory infections
  • Smoking also gives you bad breath, yellow teeth, and yellow fingernails; makes your hair and clothes smell bad; and wrinkles your skin.  
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Smoking Harms Adults

Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in the United States.

Think about the following facts: 

  • Every year in the United States about 438,000 people die from diseases related to smoking.
  • According to the American Cancer Society, smoking kills more people than alcohol, car crashes, suicide, AIDS, murder, and drugs combined.
  • Smoking causes 87% of lung cancer deaths. Lung cancer is the leading type of cancer in men and women.

In addition to cancer, smoking also causes heart disease, stroke, chronic lung problems, and many other diseases.

It’s Time to Quit!

Thousands of Americans have found a way to stop smoking. You can too. People who quit smoking live longer, healthier lives. They look and feel better. They save money and are great role models for others. Most importantly, they can help improve the health of their children and other family members.

The Dangers of Secondhand Smoke

Even if you don’t smoke, breathing in someone else’s smoke can be deadly too. Secondhand smoke causes about 3,000 deaths from lung cancer and tens of thousands of deaths from heart disease to nonsmoking adults in the United States each year.
Millions of children are breathing in secondhand smoke in their own homes. Secondhand smoke can be especially harmful to your children’s health because their lungs still are developing. If you smoke around your children or they are exposed to secondhand smoke in other places, they may be in more danger than you realize. Children whose parents smoke only outside are still exposed to the chemicals in secondhand smoke. The best way to eliminate this exposure is to quit.

Read more to learn about the dangers of secondhand smoke and how to create a smoke-free environment for your children.

What is Secondhand Smoke?

Secondhand smoke (also known as environmental tobacco smoke) is the smoke a smoker breathes out and that comes from the tip of burning cigarettes, pipes, and cigars. It contains about 4,000 chemicals. Many of these chemicals are dangerous; more than 50 are known to cause cancer. Anytime children breathe in secondhand smoke they are exposed to these chemicals.

The American Academy Pediatrics (AAP) has conducted research on the effects of thirdhand smoke and found that it is also harmful. Thirdhand smoke is the smoke left behind—the harmful toxins that remain in places where people have smoked previously. Thirdhand smoke can be found in the walls of a bar, upholstery on the seats of a car, or even a child’s hair after a caregiver smokes near the child.

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Your Developing Baby and Smoke

If you smoke or are exposed to secondhand smoke when you’re pregnant, your baby is exposed to harmful chemicals too. This may lead to many serious health problems, including:

  • Miscarriage
  • Premature birth (born not fully developed)
  • Lower birth weight than expected (possibly meaning a less healthy baby)
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Learning problems and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

The health risks go up the longer the pregnant woman smokes or is exposed to smoke. Quitting anytime during pregnancy helps—of course, the sooner the better. All pregnant women should stay away from secondhand smoke and ask smokers not to smoke around them.

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Secondhand Smoke and Your Children’s Health

Infants have a higher risk of SIDS if they are exposed to secondhand smoke. Children have a higher risk of serious health problems, or problems may become worse. Children who breathe secondhand smoke can have more:

  • Ear infections
  • Coughs and colds
  • Respiratory problems, such as bronchitis and pneumonia
  • Tooth decay

Children of smokers cough and wheeze more and have a harder time getting over colds. They miss many more school days too. Secondhand smoke can cause other symptoms including stuffy nose, headache, sore throat, eye irritation, and hoarseness.
Children with asthma are especially sensitive to secondhand smoke. It may cause more asthma attacks and the attacks may be more severe, requiring trips to the hospital.

Long-Term Effects of Secondhand Smoke

Children who grow up with parents who smoke are themselves more likely to smoke. Children and teens who smoke are affected by the same health problems that affect adults. Secondhand smoke may cause problems for children later in life including:

  • Poor lung development (meaning that their lungs never grow to their full potential)
  • Lung cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Cataracts (an eye disease)

 

Secondhand Smoke is Everywhere

Children can be exposed to secondhand smoke in many places. Even if there are no smokers in your home, your children can still be exposed to secondhand smoke. Places include:

 

  • In a car or on a bus
  • At child care or school
  • At a babysitter’s house
  • At a friend’s or relative’s house
  • In a restaurant
  • At the mall
  • At sporting events or concerts
  • In parks or playgrounds

Creating a Smoke-Free Environment

 

  •  Set the example. If you smoke, quit today! If your children see you smoking, they may want to try it, and they may grow up smoking as well. If there are cigarettes at home, children are more likely to experiment with smoking—the first step in becoming addicted.

  •  Remove your children from places where smoking is allowed, even if no one is smoking while you are there. Chemicals from smoke can be found on surfaces in rooms days after the smoking occurred.

  • Make your home smoke free. Until you can quit, don’t smoke inside your home and don’t smoke anywhere near your children, even if you are outside. Don’t put out any ashtrays. Remember, air flows throughout a house, so smoking in even one room allows smoke to go everywhere.

  • Make your car smoke free. Until you can quit, don’t smoke inside your car. Opening windows isn’t enough to clear the air and can actually blow smoke back into the faces of passengers in the back seat.

  • Choose a babysitter who doesn’t smoke. Even if the babysitter smokes outside, your children are exposed. Consider changing babysitters to find a smoke-free environment for your children.

  • Encourage tobacco-free child care and schools. Help your children’s child care or school, including outdoor areas and teachers’ lounges, become tobacco free. Get your children involved in the effort to make schools tobacco free!

E-Cigarettes and Vaping: Facts

Nearly 40% of the pediatric population is exposed to secondhand smoke (SHS). In addition, an estimated 80-90% of adult smokers began smoking during adolescence. Parents play a very important role in protecting their children from smoke exposure and preventing tobacco use.

Stop Vaping Now!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are investigating an outbreak of severe lung disease related to vaping that has caused severe illness and death in many US states.

The American Academy of Pediatrics joins the CDC to remind parents that e-cigarette use is never safe for youth, young adults, or pregnant and/or breastfeeding women.

E-cigarettes are exploding in popularity, and are being used by both adolescents and adults. They are not a safe alternative to cigarette smoking.

E-cigarettes, personal vaporizers, vape pens, e-cigars, pod systems, e-hookah, or vaping devices, are products that produce an aerosolized mixture containing flavored liquids and nicotine that is inhaled by the user. E-cigarettes can resemble traditional tobacco products like cigarettes, cigars, pipes, or common gadgets like flashlights, flash drives, or pens.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports actions to prevent children and youth from using or being exposed to the vapor from e-cigarettes.

Are They Safe?

  • The solution in e-cigarette devices and vapor contains harmful chemicals like antifreeze (made from one of two chemicals: propylene glycol or ethylene glycol), diethylene glycol, and carcinogens like nitrosamines which can cause cancer.
  • The nicotine in e-cigarettes is addictive and can harm brain development.
  • E-cigarettes are not recommended as a way to quit smoking.
  • In some cases, e-cigarette devices have exploded, causing burns or fires.
  • Secondhand smoke/vapor from e-cigarettes is harmful to growing lungs.
  • Long-term health effects on users and bystanders are still unknown.
  • E-cigarettes can be used to smoke or “vape” marijuana, herbs, waxes, and oils.
  • E-cigarettes are not yet regulated nor approved for smoking cessation by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the long-term health effects to users and bystanders are still unknown. Due to the lack of regulation, the chemical compounds in an e-cigarette device can vary between brands.
  • The best way to protect your children is to never smoke or vape near them. Talk with your doctor about quitting all tobacco. Never smoke indoors, in your car, or in places that children spend time.
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Dangers to Youth

  • E-cigarettes are the most commonly-used tobacco product among teens. In 2018, over 20% of high school students reported having used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days.
  • E-cigarettes contain a liquid solution that is usually flavored. Flavors, which are appealing to children, often are things like peach schnapps, java jolt, piña colada, peppermint, bubble gum, or chocolate.
  • Youth who use e-cigarettes are more likely to smoke traditional cigarettes in the future.
  • Children are exposed to e-cigarette advertising in the media, and in magazines and billboards.
  • Although it is illegal for e-cigarettes to be sold to youth under age 18, they can be ordered online.
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Risk of Poisoning

  • E-cigarette solutions can poison children and adults through swallowing or skin contact.
  • A child can be killed by very small amounts of nicotine: less than half a teaspoon.
  • As of 2016, liquid nicotine is required to be sold in childproof packaging.
  • Symptoms of nicotine poisoning include sweating, dizziness, vomiting, increased heart rate lethargy, seizures, and difficulty breathing.
  • Calls to poison control centers related to e-cigarette devices have skyrocketed in the last 5 years. In 2014, poison centers in the US reported 3,783 exposures to e-cigarette devices and nicotine liquid, compared to only 1,543 exposures in 2013. In 2015, 3,073 exposures were reported.

Recommendations for E-cigarette Users

  • Protect your skin if handling e-cigarette products.
  • E-cigarette users should always keep e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine locked up and out of the reach of children and follow the specific disposal instructions on the label.
  • If exposure to liquid nicotine occurs, call the local poison center at 1-800-222-1222.
References & Sources

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