Secondhand smoke: A danger to your family

What is secondhand smoke?
Secondhand smoke is the smoke given off by a cigarette, cigar or pipe and the smoke exhaled by the smoker. It is a mixture of more than 4,000 chemical compounds.

Only five minutes of breathing secondhand smoke can be harmful to you or your baby’s health. A child who spends just one hour in a smoky room is inhaling as many dangerous chemicals as if he or she smoked 10 or more cigarettes.

Even when parents don't smoke at home or in the car, there still can be negative effects if children are exposed to the tobacco smoke pollution released from the clothing and hair of smoking parents.

What are the health threats to children from secondhand smoke?
Infants and children are more vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke than adults are because they're still developing physically. Also, they generally have a higher breathing rate, which means they may inhale greater quantities of secondhand smoke than adults do.

An infant exposed to secondhand smoke as a developing fetus may be at increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The risk of SIDS increases if the baby is exposed to secondhand smoke from the mother, father or others in the household.

Women who actively smoke during pregnancy expose their developing babies to chemicals passed through the placenta. This puts the baby at risk for having  low birth weight.

Health problems associated with secondhand smoke include:
Asthma
Bronchitis
Cerebral palsy
Chronic coughing, phlegm and wheezing
Decreased  reading, math, logic and reasoning skills
Dental cavities
Slow growth and development
Irritability
Low birth weight
Learning disabilities
Respiratory problems
Pneumonia

Resources to help you quit smoking
Free & Clear is a telephone-based program offering an alternative to smokers who want the support of a structured program but who cannot attend a group class. Providence Health Plan members receive a reduced rate. For more information, call Free & Clear at 1-866-QUIT-4-LIFE (866-784-8454).

Other resources:
Oregon Tobacco Line:                                                                              1-800-784-8669
National Cancer Institute's Smoking Quit line:                                             1-877-448-7848