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Secondhand Smoke: the Silent Villian

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A few years ago, my grandfather was diagnosed with lung and colon cancer. The doctors said he had the worst pair of smoker’s lungs that they had ever seen. The only issue with their diagnosis is that my grandpa never smoked one cigarette in his life. But his wife and kids all smoked around him, so the doctors proclaimed my grandfather was a victim of second-hand smoke. He lost his battle with cancer two and a half years later, on September 14, 2016.

The environmental effects of cigarette smoking are becoming more and more obvious. Nicotine is very addictive and a very difficult habit to kick. Second-hand smoke is a silent assassin that is corroding the health of our environment and our population. Cigarette smoking is not only dangerous to the smoker but to those who breathe the toxic chemicals it gives off. Smoke-free policies are slowly being implemented to prevent hazardous environmental conditions. That said, it has been proven that second-hand smoke is a precursor to many illnesses, including cancer.

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Some smokers argue that they have the right to light one up from time to time and that whatever they put into their bodies is their business. However, their right to smoke ends when other people are forced to breathe in the noxious fumes. The personal interests of smokers and their willingness to accept or ignore the health risks associated with cigarettes do not permit them to expose everyone around them to the horrible effects of tobacco. I cannot, in good conscience, fault a person for smoking in and of itself. I have plenty of bad habits, but I don’t force anyone else to suffer from my habits. Smoking around other people forces them to take in harmful chemicals. Therefore, the government has the right to regulate and ban smoking in places where lives other than the smokers may be affected.

Research states that “There’s no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke.” (Health Risks of Secondhand Smoke par. 5) The degrading effects of second-hand smoke are horridly impactful to the human body. The anatomy of the human body is not compatible with the toxic miasmas aroused from the end of a cigarette. Second-hand smoke causes a plethora of different types of cancer such as lung, nasal, and sinus cancers. In addition to cancer, heart disease, bronchitis, a chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, asthma, and a host of other conditions. Adults and children are both affected by these diseases.

In Truth Initiative’s The Impact of Secondhand Smoke the author states several facts like “An estimated 98.3 percent of youth who live with a smoker have been exposed to secondhand smoke. In contrast, only 39.9 percent of youth who did not live with a smoker were exposed.” and “Nearly 15 percent (14.7 percent) of middle and high school students who have never used tobacco are exposed to secondhand smoke inside a vehicle.” (The Impact of Secondhand Smoke par. 5) The factual evidence provided by this article should have a resounding effect on everyone who reads it. It is statistically proven that young people suffer from secondhand smoke. The rate is extraordinarily higher for children with parents that smoke in vehicles because of their closed quarters. Smoke becomes trapped inside a car, suffocating smaller lungs in a homicidal fog.

Second-hand smoke also has other risks that are not particularly health-related. The research in Health Risks of Secondhand Smoke says, “Think of the expenses, doctor visits, medicines, lost school time, and often lost work time for the parent who must stay home with a sick child. And this doesn’t include the discomforts that the child goes through.” (Health Risks of Secondhand Smoke par. 14) Not only does second-hand smoke ruin an innocent person’s health, but it also results in the loss of money that could have been used elsewhere to help families. Because of children being around relatives that smoke, mostly parents and grandparents, a child can fall behind on schoolwork due to appointments with their doctor. This is extremely unfair to the child who never asked to succumb to the smoke inhalation.

Second-hand smoke takes money away from parents that do not have any other form of childcare besides school. These parents lose money to stay home with their sick kids, which becomes a significant inconvenience. On the other hand, if second-hand smoke is coming from a parent it might not be in the child’s best interest to stay home with their parents. This is why the government is implementing smoke-free policies!

Smoke-free policies have been instituted in public places to alleviate the epidemic of second-hand smoke. Restaurants, grocery stores, and public transportation venues have ‘no smoking’ signs to discourage the use of tobacco products. Smokers do not always respect these rules and proceed to smoke wherever they wish. The CDC says “Exposure to secondhand smoke from burning tobacco products causes disease and premature death among nonsmokers.” (Smokefree Policies Improve Health par. 1) Medical reports support these new policies as a healthier alternative. Some people do not believe what science tells us is true. This means that a percentage of smokers do not believe that smoking causes harmful diseases and will stubbornly refute the smoke-free policies because the smoker does not deem them necessary. It is up to the victims of second-hand smoke to fight for the right to have a healthy environment by raising awareness and becoming more open about the effects and dangers of smoke inhalation.

Another applicable solution to help second-hand smoke is to make a valiant effort to end smoking altogether. This may seem like a daunting task but with the support of other big rehabilitation facilities like Alcoholics Anonymous and drug rehabilitation centers to form nicotine rehabilitation programs for people who want to quit smoking but do not have the support system needed to quit an addiction or people who need to better their health. It may seem ambitious but with the right connections and people, it could be profitable.

The only other way to have complete and utter protective boundaries is to have smoke-free zones. My father is a heavy smoker who refuses to go outside or to a different room to smoke. Breathing in the smoke gives me very strong headaches and causes my nose to feel very stuffy. The fumes of his smoke make my lungs feel like they are enduring severe trauma. As a nonsmoker, I do not want to eat around smoke, shop around smoke, be in a contained environment with smoke, or anything that involves smoke; furthermore, I conclude that most nonsmokers must feel this way.

Not only does second-hand smoke harm his children, but it has also begun to harm him as well. My dad is unable to sleep on his own without a c-pap machine. When smoking a cigarette, as a person takes a hit and breathes in the fumes, the person will also be breathing the smoke from the cigarette that is actively burning. A smoker is not only the cause of second-hand smoke but a victim like everyone else. This could be prevented by smoke-free policies that could provide a hindrance to smokers from harming their lungs even more and may potentially cause smokers to quit altogether. If smoke-free policies are put into practice, smokers will not smoke as many cigarettes and therefore discontinue contamination to others, themselves, and the environment.

In addition to second-hand smoke, tobacco also causes second-hand damage. The environment is harmed in many different ways because of smoking. Cigarette butts take a long time to decompose and can be considered pollution. Tobacco companies generate carbon dioxide from the factories where cigarettes are produced. Pesticides and agricultural processes used while growing tobacco further damage the natural world. Animals are hurt by pollution and the destruction of habitat from farms.

Pets also suffer because of cigarettes. The same health issues that plague humans because of second-hand smoke also harm animals. Dogs, cats, and other pets in a household will suffer from the smoke, just like humans. Defenseless animals are tortured every day instead of receiving a healthy, stable home. People who have pets have others in their life but the pets only have their owners. The pets depend on their owners to take good care of them and need the caretakers to eliminate any situations or problems that could potentially harm them.

Second-hand smoke is a significant cause of many illnesses and cancers not only in humans but in animals as well. Smoke-free policies are rapidly becoming more common to limit the victimization of smoking cigarettes; however, not everyone obeys all the rules. In this case, nicotine-based rehabilitation programs could be implemented to delete the problem as a whole. Second-hand smoke is a quiet killer that is negatively impacting the well-being of our environment and our population. People should never feel like they are being cheated out of life because of someone else’s choices.

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