Breathing in other people’s tobacco smoke, known as second hand smoking, is widely attributed as the cause of health issues as varied as eye and throat irritation all the way to heart disease and lung cancer. Conservative estimates state that between half and two thirds of all lifelong smokers will die because of their habit, with the main contributor to this being lung cancer, coronary heart disease and chronic lung disease. In 2012/13 the Health and Social Care Information Centre reported that around 1.6 million hospital admissions for those aged 35 or over were a direct result of smoking related conditions. It is estimated that the NHS spends almost £23.3 million every year covering the cost of 300,000 UK GP consultations and 9,500 hospital admissions for illnesses that are a direct result of second hand smoke
Young people are said to be most at risk from the effects of second hand smoke. Meningitis, asthma, respiratory illness and even cot death have all been attributed to second hand smoke, with the home often being the place where a child is most exposed. The Royal College of Physicians have estimated that one in five of all sudden infant deaths are party due to second hand smoke. This is on top of an estimated 22,000 new cases of asthma, 20,000 occurrences of lower respiratory tract infection and 120,000 cases of middle ear disease that can all be linked to the effects of second hand smoke on children.
The effects of second hand smoke, and the damage it cause’s cannot be underestimated, with our pets also coming under threat. According to research Tufts University, Dogs who live in a smoker’s home exhibited increased prevalence of nose, tongue and lung cancers. This gets even more startling when analysing cats, as even limited exposure to second hand smoke has been found to double the risk of contracting a serious cancer of the immune system or blood as well as feline lymphoma.
Many people believe simply opening or smoking by a window will clear the room with protect from the potential dangers of second hand smoking. However we now know this not to be true. A study commissioned by ASH entitled ‘Second hand smoke in the home’ discovered that the toxins from cigarette can stay active within the air for up to two and half hours – even with a window open. Carpets, walls and furnishings all absorb these deadly toxins, slowly releasing them back into the air over time. This creates an additional risk of exposure, especially with young children climbing and crawling all over the affected areas.
On top of the obvious health risks. The Department for Communities and Local Governments fire statistics claim that smoking related causes are the leading source of fatal accidental fires within the home, causing 82 deaths and 852 non-fatal causalities in the UK in 2012/13. This accounts for over a third of all deaths from domestic fires.
Research recently undertaken by eMoov suggests the two thirds of the adult population would support a ban on smoking in front of infants. The survey discovered that 71% of women and 63% of men saw the need for legislation against smoking in the home if children were present. This strong support shows that many people are starting to fully realise the harmful effects smoking in the home can have on children, as well as themselves and others. Sheffield was the city found to be most support this ban, with 78% of those asked supporting the idea. However it should be noted that every area of the UK showed large support in general.
Smoking in the home doesn’t just affect your health either. It can hurt financially. The study also found that 49% of respondents would have reservations about investing in a property if the previous occupier had been a heavy smoker, being put off by the lingering smell and problems caused by years of carcinogens and other toxins sticking to furnishings. This figure rose to 52% solely among females, with Bristol in the South-West being the area least likely to buy a property from a smoker with over 60% stating it would be a major consideration and possible deal breaker.
Overall, it is clear that there are many benefits to avoiding smoking within the home. Not only to yours and your families health but your finances. So why not use no smoking day as the opportunity to try kick your habit for good.