IL Tobacco Quitline: 1-866-QUIT-YES (1-866-784-8937)
Quick Facts: Second Hand Smoke-Secondhand smoke is a mixture of the smoke given off by the burning end of a cigarette, pipe or cigar and the smoke exhaled from the lungs of smokers. Secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard causing more than 41,000 deaths per year. It can cause or make worse a wide range of damaging health effects in children and adults, including lung cancer, respiratory infections and asthma.
Secondhand smoke is estimated to cause 7,300 lung cancer deaths annually and 33,950 heart disease deaths in non-smokers each year.
Between 1964 and 2014, 2.5 million people died from exposure to secondhand smoke, according to the 2014 report from the U.S. Surgeon General.
There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke and even short-term exposure potentially can increase the risk of heart attacks.
Secondhand Smoke contains hundres of chemicals known to be toxic or carcinogenic, including formaldehyde, benzene, vinyl choloride, arsenic ammonia and hydrogen cyanide.
Children are especially susceptible: their lungs are still developing and childhood exposure to secondhand smoke results in decreased lung function. Children who breathe secondhand smoke are more likely to develop asthma, the leading serious chronic childhood disease in the US.
In the U.S., 41 percent of children are exposed to second-hand smoke.
Why is it so hard to quit smoking? Mark Twain said, “Quitting smoking is easy. I’ve done it a thousand times.” Maybe you’ve tried to quit, too. Why is quitting and staying quit hard for so many people? The answer is nicotine.
Nicotine Nicotine is a drug found naturally in tobacco. It is highly addictive – as addictive as heroin or cocaine. Over time, the body becomes both physically and psychologically dependent on nicotine. Studies have shown that smokers must overcome both of these addictions to be successful at quitting and staying quit.
Nicotine Withdrawal When smokers try to cut back or quit, the absence of nicotine leads to withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal is both physical and mental. Physically, the body reacts to the absence of nicotine. Psychologically, the smoker is faced with giving up a habit, which requires a major change in behavior. Both must be addressed in order for the quitting process to work.
Withdrawal symptoms can include any of the following: • dizziness (which may only last 1-2 days in the beginning) • depression • feelings of frustration and anger • irritability • sleep disturbances, including having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep and having bad dreams or even nightmares • trouble concentrating • restlessness • headaches • tiredness • increased appetite
These symptoms can lead the smoker to start smoking cigarettes again to boost blood levels of nicotine back to a level where there are no symptoms.
If a person has smoked regularly for a few weeks or longer and abruptly stops using tobacco or greatly reduces the amount smoked, withdrawal symptoms will occur. Symptoms usually start within a few hours of the last cigarette and peak about 2 to 3 days later. Withdrawal symptoms can last for a few days to several weeks.
When smokers quit, what are the benefits over time?
20 minutes after quitting: your heart rate and blood pressure drops.
12 hours after quitting: the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
2 – 3 months after quitting: your circulation improves and your lung function increases.
1 – 9 months after quitting: coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.
1 year after quitting: the excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker’s.
5 years after quitting: your stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker 5 to 15 years after quitting.
10 years after quitting: the lung cancer death rate is about half that of a continuing smoker’s; the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas decrease.
15 years after quitting: the risk of coronary heart disease is that of a nonsmoker’s.
These are just a few of the benefits of quitting smoking for good. Quitting smoking lowers your risk of diabetes, lets blood vessels work better, and helps your heart and lungs.
Life expectancy for smokers is at least 10 years shorter than that of non-smokers. Quitting smoking before the age of 40 reduces the risk of dying from smoking-related disease by about 90%.
Quitting while you're younger will reduce your health risks more, but quitting at any age can give back years of life that would be lost by continuing to smoke.
Are spit tobacco and snuff safe alternatives to cigarette smoking? There are many terms used to describe spit tobacco, such as oral, smokeless, chewing, and snuff tobacco. The use of spit tobacco by any name is a significant health risk, and it is not a safe substitute for smoking cigarettes. The amount of nicotine absorbed is usually more than the amount delivered by a cigarette. Overall, people who dip or chew receive about the same amount of nicotine as regular smokers. The most harmful cancer-causing substances in spit tobacco are tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs), which have been found at levels 100 times higher than the nitrosamines that are allowed in bacon, beer, and other foods.
The juice from the smokeless tobacco is absorbed directly through the lining of the mouth. This creates sores and white patches (called leukoplakia) that often lead to cancer of the mouth.
Spit tobacco users greatly increase their risk of other cancers including those of the pharynx (throat). Other effects of spit tobacco use include chronic bad breath, stained teeth and fillings, gum disease, tooth decay, tooth loss, tooth abrasion, and loss of bone in the jaw. Users may also have problems with high blood pressure and be at increased risk for heart disease.
What are the health risks of smoking pipes or cigars? Many people view cigar smoking as more “civilized” and “glamorous,” as well as less dangerous than cigarette smoking. Yet a single large cigar can contain as much tobacco as an entire pack of cigarettes.
Most of the same cancer-causing substances found in cigarettes are found in cigars. Most cigars have as much nicotine as several cigarettes. When cigar smokers inhale, nicotine is absorbed as rapidly as it is with cigarettes. For those who do not inhale, it is absorbed more slowly through the lining of the mouth. Both inhaled and non-inhaled nicotine are highly addictive.
Where can I go for help? It is hard to stop smoking. Bur if you are a tobacco use, you can quit! More than 46 million Americans have quit smoking for good. Email the Health Educator at the Marion County Health Department for more information, or call the Illinois Tobacco Quitline at 1 (866) QUIT-YES.