Bodily Defenses Image Map


Passive Smoking (Secondhand Smoke)
The smoke emitted from the end of a burning cigarette has double the concentration of nicotine and tar when compared to the smoke actually inhaled by the smoker (through a filter). It also contains higher amounts of cancer-causing chemicals.  This is because smokers inhale smoke that is filtered through both the unburned tobacco and the filter at the end of the cigarette.  This means that non-smokers subjected to secondhand smoke breathe in a more potent smoke than smokers do. Therefore, non-smokers subjected to secondhand smoke may actually suffer worse consequences than the smokers themselves.

Here are some of the effects of second-hand smoking:

  • Lung Cancer Long-term exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke has been shown to increase the risk of lung cancer by 20 30%. In fact, each year, hundreds of non-smokers die of lung cancer as a direct result of passive smoking.
  • Heart Disease A study published in 1997 by the American Heart Association found that the risk of heart attack and subsequent death is 91% higher (i.e. almost double) for women who were regularly exposed to secondhand smoke when compared to woman who were not exposed. The risk was 58% higher for those who were only occasionally exposed.  
  • Children Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke have twice the risk of being hospitalized for chest illnesses such as pneumonia and bronchitis, than children not exposed to the smoke. They are also much more likely to get ear infections, tonsillitis, wheezing and childhood asthma. In fact, passive smoking in known to be one of the main contributory factors to the development of childhood asthma and has been shown to increase both the frequency and severity of the asthma attacks.

Now try answering a few questions about smoking and other nicotine products, in Activity 3

Introduction | Why It Matters | How We Find Out | What We Know | Story Time
Common Hazards | Activities | Self-Study Game | Teachers Pages | Standards (TEKS)

Peer Curriculum | Organ Systems Home Page | Communication Exercises
Copyright 2001-2003
Web Site Privacy Statement