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World No Tobacco Day: Second-hand smoke the silent killer, Health News, ET HealthWorld

Mumbai: World No Tobacco Day, observed on May 31, serves as a critical platform for raising awareness about the devastating consequences of tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke. This annual event provides an opportunity to educate individuals, governments, and organisations on the importance of promoting smoke-free environments and encouraging healthier lifestyle choices.Second-hand smoke (SHS) is the combination of smoke exhaled by smokers and the smoke emitted from burning tobacco products. This invisible threat contains thousands of harmful chemicals, including dozens of known carcinogens. Non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke face an increased risk of various health conditions, such as lung cancer, heart disease, respiratory ailments, and even adverse effects on children, including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).ETHealthworld interacted with medical experts and smoking cessation advocates who shed light on the pressing issue of second-hand smoke, often called the silent killer. While much attention has been given to the direct health risks of smoking, the insidious effects of second-hand smoke cannot be overlooked. The experts delved into the hazards associated with second-hand smoke and emphasised the need for continued efforts to protect individuals from its detrimental effects.Second-hand smoke impactExposure to second-hand smoke can have significant detrimental effects on individuals' health, leading to various associated risks. The harmful toxins can cause cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure, heart attack or stroke. Non-smokers exposed to this smoke may experience worsened asthma symptoms, increased frequency of respiratory infections, and persistent coughing. Second-hand smoke can also aggravate chronic respiratory conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It can also increase the risk of lung cancer, breast cancer, bladder cancer, etc.It also increases the risk of lung cancer, breast cancer, bladder cancer, etc. Children exposed to second-hand smoke are particularly vulnerable. They may suffer from more frequent and severe respiratory infections, increased asthma attacks, and reduced lung function. Additionally, infants exposed to second-hand smoke are at a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Pregnant women exposed to second-hand smoke are at an increased risk of low birth weight for the baby, stillbirth, premature delivery, etc, stated, Dr Kandra Prasanth Reddy, Senior Consultant, Radiation Oncology, American Oncology Institute, Hyderabad. Adding to Dr Reddys comments, Dr SM Shuaib Zaidi, Senior Consultant, Surgical Oncology, Apollo Cancer Centre, Delhi, said, Secondhand smoke causes many of the same diseases as direct smoking, including cardiovascular diseases, cancer (lung, breast, bladder, head and neck, oesophageal, pancreas, liver, Kidney. Renal pelvis and cervical cancer) and respiratory diseases.Smoke from burning nicotine products contains harmful chemicals (toxins). Even nonsmokers inhaling other peoples smoke breathe in these toxins. Side stream smoke from the end of a cigarette, cigar or pipe is unfiltered. It has more harmful toxins than mainstream smoke that someone breathes out.Dr Sachin Kumar, Senior Consultant Pulmonologist and Critical Care Medicine, Sakra World Hospital, Bengaluru added, Secondhand smoke can cause sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), respiratory infections, ear infections, and asthma attacks in infants and children. Sharing his views, Samrat Chowdhery, Director, Council For Harm Reduced Alternatives mentioned that the adverse effects of smoking were known for a long, but the anti-smoking movement took off in the 1980s when passive smoking risks became widely known after Takeshi Hirayamas study found wives of heavy smokers to have a higher risk of lung cancer, though the sample size of the study was small. Since then, there has been more research and while many studies have found elevated risk of lung cancer if there is prolonged exposure spouses, those working in bars or casinos etc some long-term studies have found the relation to be weak.Any harm caused to bystanders is of concern, which led to policies protecting them, including smoke-free zones and designated smoking zones. These also serve to denormalise smoking and safeguard non-users from cues, thereby regulating societal behaviour, said Chowdhery.Global impact of SHS, combating SHSSecond-hand smoke increases the risk of morbidity and mortality among children and adults. The global impact of second-hand smoke is substantial, causing significant health burdens and contributing to a considerable number of deaths each year.According to the WHO, tobacco kills more than eight million people each year. More than seven million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 1.2 million are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.Commenting on the long-term goals in combatting second-hand smoke, and how can a smoke-free world be achieved, Dr Reddy said, Achieving this goal requires concerted efforts from various stakeholders, including governments, public health organisations, communities, and individuals. Implementing comprehensive smoke-free policies is one of the primary strategies in combatting second-hand smoke. This involves enacting laws and regulations that prohibit smoking in public spaces, including workplaces, restaurants, bars, public transportation, and recreational areas. By establishing smoke-free environments, exposure to second-hand smoke can be significantly reduced, protecting the health of non-smokers.Adding to Dr Reddys viewpoint, Dr Zaidi remarked, Ban tobacco in all public places including hospitals colleges and schools. Elaborating further, Dr Reddy added, To achieve a smoke-free world, it is important to consider equity and address disparities in tobacco use and exposure. Efforts should be made to target populations with higher rates of smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke, such as low-income communities and certain demographic groups. Also, personal spaces like home or car are one of the primary places to combat second-hand smoking. Encourage family members or friends to quit smoking.In general, awareness of the harms of second-hand smoke is lacking among the general population. Hence the long-term goal would be to improve the current level of awareness, while effort should be intensified to address identified areas of low level of awareness.A smoke-free world is still a utopian dream as several measures at the individual level, society level and government policy level have to be taken, added Dr Kumar. Cessation efforts Several steps can be taken to further reduce smoking rates and support smoking cessation efforts, aiming to create healthier communities and improve public health outcomes. National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP) was launched in 2007-08 to create awareness, reduce the production and supply of tobacco, effective implementation of Ciga

Wednesday, May 31, 2023 at 2:15 pm

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