Dangers Of Passive Smoking

When you smoke, the smoke you inhale doesn’t just affect you; smoke can linger in the air for up to 3 hours and this means that it is possible for others to inhale harmful chemicals; this is known as passive smoking. Passive smoking can affect anyone, but it is particularly damaging for children, especially when a person is smoking in a confined space.

Passive smoking increases the risk of developing respiratory diseases, such as asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and cancer. Cancer Research UK estimates that around 12,000 people in the UK die as a result of conditions linked to passive smoking; these include heart attacks, cancer and strokes. Passive smoking is particularly dangerous in terms of your risk of developing lung, pharyngeal (cancer of the pharynx) and laryngeal (cancer of the larynx) cancer.

Passive smoking and children

In children, second-hand smoke has been proven to increase the risk of the following health problems:

  • coughs and chest infections
  • asthma
  • bronchitis
  • bacterial meningitis
  • cot death (also known as sudden infant death syndrome

A report compiled for the Royal College of Physicians revealed that each year, passive smoking is associated with:

  • more than 20,000 incidences of infections in the lower respiratory tract 
  • 120,000 middle ear infections
  • 22,000 cases of wheezing and asthma

It is also estimated that up to 23,000 teenagers start smoking each year in the UK as a result of being exposed to smoking at home. 

Even smoking with a window open carries major risks for children’s health, as smoke lingers in the air and collects on clothing, furniture and surfaces. If you do smoke, it is always best to go outside, rather than smoking indoors. 

Smoking in cars is often more dangerous than smoking at home because it is a confined space and the concentration of smoke is higher; from the 1st October 2015 it will be illegal for anyone to smoke in a car with child passengers; however, if you have passengers of any age you should consider not smoking to protect their health. If you smoke in a car with children present, you are liable to pay a spot fine (in England and Wales).


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