Is Passive Smoking More Harmful Than Active Smoking?
Most of us know that smoking is injurious to health but do we know that smoking can be classified into two which are active smoking and passive smoking. Are we aware about the fact that passive smoking is equally or even more harmful than active smoking?
In general, smoking is defined as a practice where substance such as dried leaves of tobacco plant are rolled into a cylinder called “cigarette” is burned and the resulting smoke is absorbed into the bloodstream. Active smoking is basically smoking by using cigarettes and the combustion that occurs in the cigarette is released out as smoke. The combustion of the active substance in the cigarette that occurs vaporizes and delivers the substances into the lungs where they are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and reach the tissues in the body. Based on Better Health Channel (2015), passive smoking is breathing in other people’s tobacco smoke. Exhaled smoke is called exhaled mainstream smoke. The smoke drifting from a lit cigarette is called a sidestream smoke. The combination of mainstream and sidestream smoke is called second-hand smoke (SHS) or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS).
Active smoking is injurious as it affects the lungs by causing lung infections and lung cancer. It also affects the heart, blood vessels and blood circulation in a harmful way. Active smokers are at high risk of getting heart diseases, stroke and heart attacks.
Besides, passive smoking also brings a lot of health risks to public especially to children, pregnant women and unborn babies. Passive smoking is harmful as the secondhand smoke (SHS) contains a lot of chemicals such as irritants and toxins. Frequent exposure to SHS increases a person’s risk of lung cancer, coronary heart diseases such as heart attack, angina (chest pain), heart failure and stroke. Children and babies who are exposed to SHS have higher risk of getting upper respiratory and lung infections, ear infections, asthma attacks and sudden infant death syndrome. Parents who smoke can cause wheezing, coughing, bronchitis and pneumonia in their children. Moreover, pregnant women have high chances of having spontaneous abortion (miscarriage), stillborn birth, low birth-weight baby and other pregnancy and delivery problems when exposed to SHS.
Passive smoking causes more harmful effects than active smoking. Based on Hindustan Times (2014), Dr. (Col) SP Rai, consultant in pulmonary medicine, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital and Medical Research Institute, Andheri (W) says that “The fume that burns off the end of a cigarette or cigar actually contains more harmful substances than the smoke inhaled by the smoker, as there is no filter through which it passes. The particles are also smaller, which allows them to stay longer in the air and go deeper into your lungs”.
Other than that, based on The Hindu (2013), Dr. Vishal Rao said that “Passive smoking is more dangerous than active smoking as more than 6,000 children were getting admitted to hospitals every year in the country for various ailments caused by passive smoking. Of late, cases of sudden infant death syndrome have increased due to people smoking in their houses, without bothering about the health of their children. We have come across several cases of healthy babies going to sleep at night found dead in the morning. Such cases are the result of people smoking continuously in the room, which cause suffocation to the baby”.
In addition, based on Hilton P., FitPerez (2011), Second-hand smoke (SHS) is considered more dangerous than the mainstream smoke that is actually inhaled. The smoke that comes off the end of the cigarette has a higher concentration of cancer-causing agents. A person who smokes actually is smoking the cigarette though a filter which diminishes the harmful toxins. When smokers blow out the smoke, it lingers in the air for several hours afterwards and affects the lungs and oxygen levels of the people around the smokers. Breathing SHS for a short time can irritate the lungs and reduce the amount of oxygen in your blood. Prolonged or repeated exposure to SHS is much more dangerous. And it isn’t just the smoke that’s a concern. The residue that cling to a smoker’s hair and clothing, household cushions and carpeting continue to poses a health threat. Estimated around 600,000 die worldwide from SHS and they weren’t even smokers.
In a nutshell, it is clear that passive smoking is more harmful than active smoking. Therefore, we should work hand in hand to reduce smoking in order for the future generation to experience a smoke-free and healthy environment. This is because children who grow up with family members who smokes tend to start smoking themselves. If you’re a parent who smokes, then it will be hard to explain to your children why they shouldn’t start smoking. We should try to lead the children by quitting smoking as they may be less likely to start smoking later in life as well as improving your health and theirs. We can start by providing children with smoke-free environment including home, car and public places where children spent most of their time.
1. Deo, S. 2014. Why Passive Smoking Is Worse Than Smoking. Hindustan Times. http://www.hindustantimes.com/health-and-fitness/why-passive-smoking-is-worse-than-smoking/story-OEi31jnnv5BVlGKYKQUhzK.html. [27 May 2014]
2. Anon. 2013. ‘Passive Smoking Is More Dangerous’. The Hindu, July 19
3. Hilton, P. 2011. Second hand Smoke Is More Dangerous Than Smoking. FitPerez. Mac.
4. Anon. 2015. Is Passive Smoking Harmful? http://www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/2289.aspx?categoryid=53&.html. [11 Mac 2015]
5. Samet, J.M. 2005. The Risks of Active and Passive Smoking. Smoking: Risks, Perception and Policy. page 3-28. California: Sage Publications Inc.