This past Tuesday, while taking my children on their weekly trip to the library, I saw the most horrifying sight. A woman sat in the car facing mine and she was killing her four beautiful children. I wanted to scream at her, “Don’t you know that murder is a sin.” “Why are you doing this to your four beautiful children?” Or even, “What did they ever do to you?” Instead I watched in horror and shook my head in disdain until she drove away. (Not very proactive I know, but like most Americans I didn’t think it was my place to get involved, at least not in the library parking lot.)
You are probably wondering what this woman did that was so horrible. She did what millions of people around the world do every day. She lit up a cigarette and smoked in front of her children. Sure she let the window down a crack, but it is not enough.
Everyone knows that smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, emphysema, chronic bronchitis ect…and kills over 392,000 people in the United States each year. But rarely do smokers think about how their smoking is affecting their loved ones. Second and third hand smoking kills an additional 50,000 Americans as well according to the American Lung Association.
Secondhand smoke occurs when one person smokes a cigarette and the smoke from the burning cigarette and the smokers exhaled breath enters the environment and other people inhale that air. This secondhand smoke is called environmental tobacco smoke ETS. Second hand smoke has been linked to lung, nasal, cervical and bladder cancer. There is also an increase in low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome, asthma, and chronic upper respiratory tract, and middle ear infections in children.
Third hand smoke is a relatively new term coined by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital for children Third hand smoke is that stale lingering smoke that is in the air and stuck to objects in the environment long after the cigarette has been extinguished and represents the toxic deposits.
This third hand smoke can also be transferred in the milk of breastfeeding mothers , according to Jonathan Winickoff, MD, MPH lead study author. There are thousands of toxins in cigarette smoke, and is more detrimental to the bodies of developing children than to the adults who are actually smoking the cigarettes. Of the 250 toxic gases in cigarette smoke, eleven of them are Group 1 carcinogens. Even low levels of tobacco particulates have been associated with cognitive deficits in children.
So when I say you are murdering your children with your second and third hand smoke I am serious. I was powerless to help the children suffering in the car in front of me this week, but hopefully my words will encourage at least one parent to stop smoking if not for their own sakes, then for the life and breath of their children.
For more information on the dangers of smoking and how to quit click on the link below.