Tobacco control and prevention efforts are usually targeted at current and potential tobacco users - but there's more to it than that. Although the health effects for smokers are a deadly reality, we also know that the smoke from cigarettes affects everybody around it.
For college students, the campus environment can be really dangerous since there are many locations where they can be exposed to secondhand smoke - places like residence halls, student housing, outside of building entrances and in bars and buildings where smoking is permitted. So what's the big deal about being exposed?
- Even 30 minutes of secondhand smoke exposure daily can cause heart damage similar to that of a habitual smoker.
- People who are exposed to daily secondhand smoke have a 30% higher death and disease rate than that of non-smokers.
- Secondhand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death in this country, behind smoking and alcohol/drug abuse.
- It is estimated that secondhand smoke causes 3,000 lung cancer deaths and more than 50,000 coronary heart disease deaths every year.
- Secondhand smoke is also associated with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and unhealthy (lower birth weight) infants. Smoking by mothers is linked to a higher risk of their babies developing asthma in childhood.
- Babies and children raised in a household where there is smoking have more ear infections, colds, bronchitis, and other respiratory problems than children from non-smoking families.