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What is Passive Smoking and What are its Consequences?

We are aware that tobacco smoke is injurious to health. In this article we look at what passive smoking is and what its consequences are?

What is Passive Smoking?

Passive smoking refers to breathing in of tobacco smoke exhaled by others. It is actually the involuntary inhalation of smoke not only from cigarettes but also from hookah, marijuana or e-cigarettes that are smoked by other people. Thus passive smoking is a kind of secondhand smoking and it is also called as Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS). It is a mixture of 2 types of smoke that come from burning tobacco. It includes mainstream smoke, which is the smoke exit by the smoker and side stream smoke, which is the smoke from the lighted end of the secret or pipe. This type of smoke has higher concentrations of carcinogenic agents which are more toxic than the mainstream smoke and hazardous to health.1

Passive smoking is considered injurious to one’s health. It has same number of harmful chemicals as that of smoking. Many experts even argue that it is more injurious than direct smoking.

What is Passive Smoking?

What are the Consequences of Passive Smoking?

Tobacco smoke is injurious to health even if it is someone else’s smoke. When a person smokes a cigarette in most of the cases, it is seen that the smoke does not enter into their lungs completely. It actually goes into the air that anyone who is there nearby, breathes. Thus even if you do not smoke a cigarette, you can still be exposed to secondhand smoke, which is actually more harmful than smoking cigarette. Hence, smoking cigarette should be strictly banned in public place. Children can also be exposed to passive smoking especially those who stay with parents who smokes.

It is necessary to know the consequences of passive smoking. Here are some of the important health hazards to note.

It is found in the research that the tobacco smoke consists of more than 4000 chemical compounds out of which 250 compounds can cause serious diseases. It is also found in the research that out of these 4000 chemicals more than 69 chemicals enhance the risk of cancer.

Passive smoking invites a number of health problems that include the following:

  • Non-smokers who are exposed to passive smoking have an increased risk of developing lungs cancer.2 Non-smokers who stay in contact with smokers are 20-30 percent more likely to develop lung cancer. It is reported that around 7000 people die each year due to lung cancer that has mainly occurred due to passive smoking.
  • Apart from lung cancer, passive smoking also increase the risk of other types of cancer like head or neck cancer, bladder cancer and other types.
  • Passive smoking also increases the risk of heart disease and that too almost 25-40 percent. In the United States, around 42000 people die each year due to heart disease and the main cause of these heart diseases are passive smoking.
  • Passive smoking is also responsible for recurrent episodes of respiratory infection. In the USA, it is seen that around 30,000 to 50,000 children below 18 years of age suffer from lower respiratory infection each year. Children staying with the person who smokes are at greater risk of developing a lower respiratory disease such as pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma, etc. In such episodes, children who live with smokers may need intensive care as well as ventilator support more than others.
  • It is also seen that passive smoking causes serious complication during pregnancy. It greatly increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, ectopic pregnancy, premature birth, etc. Due to exposure to passive smoking, the newborn baby can also have low-birth-weight and may be at risk of infections and other health issues.


Thus passive smoking is very dangerous. The only way to protect from passive smoking is to keep the environment free from smoke. Mass awareness regarding the effects of smoking is also needed. Now that you are aware of what passive smoking is and what its consequences are, you should make every attempt to stop passive smoking.

If it is not possible for you to quit smoking avoid smoking indoors and try to keep the environment safe for others. If you are a non-smoker then it is very important to stay away from smoke to avoid the serious consequences of passive smoking. It is best to avoid the company f smokers to protect yourself from its harmful effects.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 14, 2019

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