March 31, 2023

Is your child passively smoking?

Dubai– According to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention on an average, children are exposed to more secondhand smoke than nonsmoking adults. Two out of every five children aged 3 to 11 are exposed to secondhand smoke in the United States. It can come from a cigarette, cigar, or pipe.

Scientific studies show that there can be around 4000 chemicals in cigarette smoke; at least 250 are known to cause disease. They can be breathed in by anyone near a smoker. Some of these chemicals are: Tar, which has many chemicals in it some of which cause cancer, Carbon Monoxide which reduces the amount of oxygen in blood – so people can develop heart diseases (the amount of carbon monoxide is not enough to cause any immediate effects in passive smokers (such as feeling tired), but over a long time the effects can worsen heart disease), Poisons – including arsenic, ammonia and cyanide.

According to HAAD, tobacco use is the most important risk factor for cancer, causing 22 per cent of global cancer deaths and 71 per cent of worldwide lung cancer deaths.  Children who grow up with a parent or family member who smokes are three times more likely to start smoking themselves. Passive smoking particularly leads to increased risk of children getting serious respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia. Studies show that children, whose parents smoke get sick more often, have more lung infections like bronchitis and pneumonia and are more likely to cough, wheeze, and have shortness of breath.

Dr. Mohammed Zaheeruddin, Specialist Pediatrician at Medeor 24×7 Hospital, Dubai, said “Second hand smoking is breathing in smoke from other people’s cigarettes, cigars and even shisha.  If you are around smokers, you are smoking as well. One cigarette contains more than 250 active carcinogenic chemicals, including formaldehyde, benzene, vinyl chloride, arsenic, ammonia and hydrogen cyanide. Irrespective if you smoke or not, inhaling someone else’s smoke can be equally dangerous and can increase the risk of cancer and other health problems. Second hand smoke particularly harmful for children as their lungs are smaller than adults and children also breathe faster, hence are more susceptible to illnesses like cough, pneumonia, asthma and even bronchitis. It can also make asthma symptoms worse in kids already suffering from asthma and trigger asthma attacks.”

Every year, on 31 May, WHO and partners mark World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), highlighting the health  and additional risks associated with tobacco use, and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption. The theme for World No Tobacco Day 2017 is “Tobacco – a threat to development.” The campaign will demonstrate the threats that the tobacco industry poses to the sustainable development of all countries, including the health and economic well-being of their citizens. It will propose measures that governments and the public should take to promote health and development by confronting the global tobacco crisis.

“On the occasion of World No Tobacco Day, I would urge parents to educate their kids about the harmful effects of passive smoking. Awareness about the adverse effects of smoking tobacco whether active or passive should start in early childhood so that the kids are aware before stepping into something which can be life threatening later. Second hand smoking can cause chronic respiratory problems like asthma and chest infection in kids. One should seldom smoke in front of their kids be it cigarette or shisha. Sending your kids to the other room when you want to smoke is not a great alternative either. One should have a smoke-free house and even a smoke free car. Remember kids learn the most from parents and hence it’s every parent’s duty to inculcate all the healthy habits in their kids. And by doing this you are not only helping your kids but other family members as well” said Dr. Mohamed Berer, the Medical Director at Medeor 24×7 Hospital, Dubai.

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