A new study released by the World Health Organization has said around 600,000 deaths annually can be attributed to side effects of passive smoking. BBC News reports children are particularly vulnerable, as 165,000 die from respiratory infections. The biggest killer is heart disease, prevalent in 379,000 cases in 2004.
The study is the first of its kind to measure the effects of secondhand smoke on non-smokers in a home where smoking occurs. Authors of the study admit their own limitations on the data, including a lack of information on any underlying health conditions.
My wife and I are non-smokers and our kids are too young to smoke. However, as concerned parents, we may have some worry when it comes to the health conditions of our children in the future.
My daughter has dated boys her age in high school whose parents smoke. Sometimes on visits to their houses, she would come home smelling like smoke, and we’d have to wash her clothes. Her exposure to such conditions was not constant, but my wife and I are slightly concerned about her future health.
If either of our kids falls in love with a smoker, we won’t prevent them from staying in a relationship. We understand they can’t help who they fall in love with. We also know our kids are smart. Hopefully smoking will be a turn-off to both of our children, but we certainly would not want our grandchildren growing up with any lingering health issues.
The upside to this story is that medical care in the United States is some of the best in the world. Most of the cases of passive smoking-related deaths occur in Europe.
All we can do is educate our kids. My daughter’s own experiences with her past boyfriend have already turned her against dating anyone who smokes. She couldn’t stand coming home smelling like smoke because of her boyfriend’s dad, who smoked all the time.
Both our children have already had health classes about the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke. We’ve already told them about the dangers that being in enclosed spaces with a smoker can do to your lungs, especially since our son is an asthmatic.
My wife and I have concern for the future health of our kids. Even though when they become adults our children can pretty much do what they want to regardless of what my wife and I say to them, we still want what’s best for our kids.
As long as they know what happens if they are exposed to the long-term effects of inhaling cigarette smoke, there’s little we can do. So far, their exposure has been minimal, and we hope it stays that way throughout their adult lives.
BBC News Health, “Passive smoking ‘kills 600,000’ worldwide,” BBC News.