We all know that secondhand smoke is harmful, but less obvious is just how easy it is to pollute your indoor air with cigarettes. Even one or two cigarettes will do significant damage. With the holiday season approaching, it’s critical to set boundaries with visitors that might be smokers.
Small children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. While it might be awkward to set these boundaries – especially with certain family members! – you’ll be protecting the health of your whole family by doing so.
The dangers of indoor smoking are indisputable. In addition to the serious health issues smokers themselves face, nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke are also at risk.
Dangers of Secondhand Smoke
- 20-30% increased risk of heart disease
- 20-30% increased risk of lung cancer
- Increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome for babies exposed to secondhand smoke
- More frequent ear infections in children exposed to secondhand smoke
- Increased risk of ADHD in children exposed to tobacco smoke
Designate a Smoking Area
Contrary to some people’s beliefs, simply opening a window does not eliminate the risks of indoor smoking. In an ideal world, no one would smoke cigarettes. Until then, it’s wise to designate a place for smokers to go that diminishes the risk of others being exposed to the secondhand smoke. The following guidelines can help you determine where that might be:
- Should not be near any entryways, windows, or air ducts into the home.
- Should not be near anywhere children play.
- If outdoors, should not be anywhere where airflow directly affects entryways or windows.
- If indoors, such as a shed or detached garage, should be well ventilated. Consider adding a smoke-reducing air purifier to indoor smoking areas.
Finally, it’s also wise to reduce the instances of third hand smoke as well. Third hand smoke is the residue left on a person’s body and clothes after smoking. We’ve all had that experience where you’re standing next to someone and you just know they are a smoker or spend a lot of time with one! That’s third hand smoke at work.
To lower that chances of third hand smoke entering the home, ask guests to wash their hands when they come in from smoking. Also, consider keeping a coat hanger just outside the door rather than inside, to lessen the amount of third hand smoke enters the home on clothing.
Talking with your family about these risks and setting some guidelines isn’t the most fun conversation to have, but when all is said and done you’ll enjoy a much happier, healthier holiday with your family.
While I know it’s important, I sometimes dread talking about issues like this with some of my family members – is that true for any of you as well?
Photo Credit: “Smoke” by Ferran Jorda on Flickr. CC Licensed.