- Second-hand smoke accounts for up to 2,700 deaths each year in people aged between 20 and 63 and up to 8,000 deaths in people aged 63+.
- During the course of a year, children living in households with two smokers or more can inhale the nicotine equivalent of smoking 150 cigarettes themselves.
- Smoke can linger for up to three hours, even in a well-ventilated room.
- Walls, carpets, furnishings and even children’s toys are absorbent to toxins from cigarette smoke.
Non-smokers at risk
Breathing other people’s smoke is known as passive smoking or second-hand smoking. This can affect the health of everyone who lives with a smoker, including pets!
Public awareness of the dangers of second-hand smoke has risen considerably over the years, particularly since the introduction of legislation in 2007 to protect people in public spaces and at work.
However, despite this raised awareness and more smokers reporting that they do not smoke at home, around 2 million children in Britain are still routinely exposed to the effects of second-hand smoke in their own homes.
Young children have a 72% increased risk of illnesses such as chest-infections, ear infections and even heart problems. Second hand smoke has also been linked to asthma in children and cot deaths of babies.
A report published by the Royal College of Physicians in 2010 highlighted the scale of the problem concerning children in particular. They estimate that each year, exposure to second-hand smoke results in more than 300,000 children needing GP consultations with around 9,500 being admitted to hospital.
The chances of a non-smoking adult developing heart disease and lung cancer are increased by 25% if they are exposed to second-hand smoke in the home.
Pets at risk
Pets are also exposed to second-hand smoke in the home.
Studies in the United States have found that even limited exposure to tobacco smoke doubles the risk to cats of contracting feline lymphoma. Another study has linked incidences of nasal cancer in dogs to exposure to second-hand smoke, whilst a 2006 study highlighted the risks to rabbits and birds.
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The British Medical Association states categorically that there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke.