The health consequences of involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke can be devastating.
Short term, the effects don’t seem so dramatic. Exposure to secondhand smoke causes coughing, headaches and sore throats in the short run – irritating enough that I wouldn’t want you doing it in my flat, but I haven’t got A&E on speed dial just yet.
Long-term passive smoking is where the increased risks really start to kick in. I mentioned pretty early on that lung cancer risk and heart disease can be thirty percent more likely – admittedly, that was mainly to get your attention. But the point is secondhand smoke deserves more attention. Rolling the dice on ourselves is one thing, but thirty percent is a massive number for someone who doesn’t have the choice!
Moreover, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Breathing secondhand smoke also increases the risk of respiratory infections (such as COPD). It makes the blood of passive smokers stickier, increasing the likelihood of clots in their blood vessels.
This is how tobacco smoke causes disease for passive smokers. It can lead to strokes (which are 20-30% more likely for secondhand smokers), heart attacks, complete heart failure and angina (which is basically a medical term for heartache – and not the type Bruno Mars sings about).
The solution? Take it outside. The harmful effects of tobacco products can linger indoors for up to five hours, but don’t cause problems like these in smoke-free homes – so stepping out into your front garden is a good first step.