|IL Tobacco Quitline:
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 estimated to cause 3,000 lung cancer deaths annually
and 35,000 heart disease deaths in non-smokers each year.
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., 43 percent of children are exposed to second-hand
smoke in their own homes and 85 percent of children have
detectable levels of cotinine in their blood.
Exposure to secondhand smoke increases the severity and
frequency of asthma episodes; 200,000 to 1,000,000 asthmatic
children with asthma have experienced aggravated symptoms.
Exposure to secondhand smoke causes 150,000 to 300,000
lower respiratory tract infections (pneumonia and bronchitis)
annually in children 18 months and younger; these infections
result in 7,500 to 15,000 hospitalizations each year.
Secondhand smoke exposure causes buildup of fluid in the
middle ear, resulting in 700,000 to 1.6 million physician office
visits. Middle ear infections are the most common cause of
childhood operations and of childhood hearing loss.
A California EPA study estimated 1,900 to 2,700 sudden infant
death syndrome (SIDS) deaths annually associated with
secondhand smoke exposure
Lung with Emphysema
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 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.
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)
• feelings of frustration and anger
• sleep disturbances, including having trouble falling asleep,
staying asleep and having bad dreams or even nightmares
• trouble concentrating
• 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
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.
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
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.