Studies have shown that second-hand smoke kills more than 600,000 non-smokers worldwide every year. Among these deaths, 379 000 are related to heart disease. Added to that, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared, after research, that about 40 percent of the world’s children are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke in their home. Indeed, a report published by the same organisation in 2012 said that children who are exposed to their folks’ cigarette smoke are likely to suffer an irreversible impact to their cardiovascular health later in life.
For those not familiar with the term ‘second-hand smoking’, also known as environmental smoking or passive smoking, it basically means that a non-smoker is exposed to smoke and thus taking in nicotine and toxic chemicals by the same route as smokers do. Anyone can see where the problem is here. Indeed, by indulging in this very dangerous habit, not only are smokers putting themselves at risks, but also they are putting others at the same risks. So as to remind you what the consequences of inhaling substances produced by cigarettes can be, think about heart diseases, lung cancer, asthma, etc.
One third of those killed by passive smoking are children. As if this was not already scandalous enough, in addition to being at increased risk of a series of respiratory conditions, the lungs of children who breath in passive smoke may also develop more slowly than children who grow up in smoke-free homes.
The number of times I have tried to talk to smokers and I received the answer that ‘we all have to die one day of something’ is beyond my understanding. The thing that those people seem to forget is that it does not only affect them. Nobody should want to risk children’s health, especially not at home. In fact, home is the place a child should be safe, it is supposed to be a refuge from the uncontrollable factors of the outside world. Once you expose children to a smoking environment in your own home, your taking away their refuge. This, I would hope, is not often done on purpose. However, we cannot always put the blame on ignorance.
A child becoming a passive smoker is a terrible thing that is occurring in developed countries as well as developing countries. Let’s not forget that sub-Sahara African countries are amongst these developing countries, where the rate of asthma among children is increasing to an alarming rate. Smoking is a toxic habit, but it is also a selfish habit I might argue. Therefore, why not take this month of May, as the 31st is the tobacco free day, to reflect upon this and make a life changing decision for the better.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Engage Africa Foundation's Staff.
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