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New Study: The Dangers of Secondhand Smoke

Posted by Catherine Morgan on November 27, 2007


Quite Smoking…If not for yourself then for the ones you love. — by Catherine Morgan (cross-posted at BlogHer)

Recent studies show that about one third of non-smokers who are exposed to high levels of secondhand smoke, have similar damage to their lungs as actual smokers. It shouldn’t really come as any surprise that secondhand smoke is bad, it only makes sense that if smoking is bad for you, than secondhand smoke can’t be too good. Right?

To give you an example…Over 15 years ago I had a patient who was dying of lung cancer and had never smoked a day in her life, her husband was the smoker. It was very sad.

I’ve been hearing a lot today (CNN) about two interesting studies on the subject of secondhand smoke. One shows actual MRI images of smokers and non-smokers, with an image of a non-smoker that was exposed to secondhand smoke in the middle. The other was a study out of Indiana, that shows a 70% decrease in heart attacks of non-smokers admitted to the ER, that directly coincides with a smoking ban that was put in place at the same time.

It’s not a smoking gun, but it’s smoking-related, and it’s there in bright medical images: evidence of microscopic structural damage deep in the lungs, caused by secondhand cigarette smoke. For the first time, researchers have identified lung injury to nonsmokers that was long suspected, but not previously detectable with medical imaging tools. — From Science Daily

One third of people who breath in high levels of secondhand smoke have damage to their lungs similar to that seen in smokers, doctors reported on Monday.

. . .

They found that 57 percent of the smokers and 33 percent of the nonsmokers with high exposure to secondhand smoke had signs of early lung damage as measured by the scan.

. . .

In February, U.S. researchers reported that up to 20 percent of women who develop lung cancer have never smoked. — WASHINGTON (Reuters)

Secondhand smoke is putting non-smokers at a greater risk for heart disease as well as lung cancer…

People with no risk factors for heart disease can still experience heart attacks. An Indiana University study found that after a countywide smoking ban was implemented, hospital admissions for such heart attacks dropped 70 percent for non-smokers — but not for smokers.

“Heart attack admissions for smokers saw no similar decline during the study, so the benefits of the ban appear to come more from the reduced exposure to second-hand smoke among non-smokers than from reduced consumption of tobacco among smokers,” said Dong-Chul Seo, lead author and an assistant professor in IU Bloomington’s Department of Applied Health Science.

The study, published in the latest Journal of Drug Education, was the first to examine the effect of public smoking bans on heart attacks in non-smokers. — Newswise

It seems smoking isn’t just bad for your heart and lungs, but also for your brain. Bev from That’s Fit has a post on the affects of secondhand smoke and test scores in high school students…

Lighting up cancer sticks at home hurts your kids’ lungs — it may also hurt their high school test scores. According to a new study in the Journal of Adolescent Health, 16-18 year-olds sucking in secondhand smoke suffer academic consequences — a whopping 30 percent decrease in the odds of passing standardized achievements tests. — read full post

Gwen from the Cholesterol Blog has this to say…

In my office, I cringe whenever a small group of young men and women slips outside– to light up. Their smoking behavior really disturbs me. I’ve tried bribing them with brownies, but to no avail. On some level, I realize the youngsters need to deal with addiction in their own way and in their own time. This doesn’t stop me from scanning the headlines for smoking-related news, hoping to find a magic bullet that will motivate the kids to kick the deadly habit. — read full post

Emily from News for Cats and Dogs has a post explaining that secondhand smoke also appears to be bad for our pets…

“There have been a number of scientific papers recently that have reported the significant health threat secondhand smoke poses to pets,” MacAllister said. “Secondhand smoke has been associated with oral cancer and lymphoma in cats, lung and nasal cancer in dogs, as well as lung cancer in birds.” — read full post

Also See:

Secondhand Smoke Facts from the American Lung Association

CDC Fact Sheet on Secondhand Smoke

Americans For Non-Smokers’ Rights

Children and Secondhand Smoke

Quit Smoking at

Tanya from That’s Fit says…One of ten ways to stay young is to stop smoking.

Jeni from Savvy Skin says…Secondhand Smoke Sucks.

Apparently, about 50% of non-smokers are actually being exposed to enough secondhand smoke to put them at increased risk for cancer and heart disease. Do you think you could be one of them? What will you do to reduce your exposure to secondhand smoke? Do you think there should be more bans on smoking in public places? Should smokers have the right to smoke, even it they are putting non-smokers at risk? Where do the rights of non-smokers begin, and the rights of smokers end?

Contributing Editor Catherine Morgan
also at and The Political Voices of Women


10 Responses to “New Study: The Dangers of Secondhand Smoke”

  1. Joe Camel said

    I got flat feet and mumps from secondhand smoke and I think I’m going blind.

  2. “To give you an example…Over 15 years ago I had a patient who was dying of lung cancer and had never smoked a day in her life, her husband was the smoker. It was very sad.” Gee, I guess that means it is far better and healthier to smoke than to be exposed to second hand smoke….. To all those who believe the Junk Science of this article, I have a bridge at the North Pole I want to sell you. Imagine just how ‘cool’ you’ll be with all your friends when you tell them you own a bridge at the North Pole. — For REAL Science check out the links at

    And, you’ll be telling them as much truth as is in this anti-smoking Junk Science article.

  3. Steve. Honestly, “junk science”….Are you kidding me?

  4. tobeme said

    There really is no good reason to smoke and many bad reasons why one should not smoke. I just bought a house that was smoked in for 25 plus years. I spent two weeks removing the ciggerete tar from the yellowed windows and window frams, the walls, the celings, etc. It was disgusting! Why would anyone in their right mind do this to themselves and pay for the priviledge?

  5. I agree “Tobeme” – As a non-smoker (and since I have asthma, it’s not even an option), I don’t understand the desire to smoke. To me it’s just a disgusting habit. Thanks for commenting.

  6. Joe Camel said

    Tobeme, Catherine Morgan:

    No good reason to smoke? How about the fact that it’s the best antidepressant known to man? One point five billion people on the planet think that’s reason enough.

    Whether the next man smokes or not is none of your damn business. And don’t say smokers’ deadly fumes threaten you, because that notion is a bald faced lie perpetrated by Big Pharma.

    Some free advice: A) Find out what you’re talking about before you shoot your mouth off and B) MYOB.

  7. tmour said

    Ppl smoke to get inspiration, ppl smoke to relax, ppl smoke when they are after an heavy activity, ppl smoke to gain energy to do an activity, ppl smoke after meals like dessert, ppl smoke before meal like an appetiser, ppl smoke when they wake up, ppl smoke before they go to bed. In countries where smoking is prohibited in certain places, they squat by back stairway, stand by back doors, they have smoking buddies. They are dressed professionally, suddenly u stumbled upon them sitting open legged on back stairways. The worst scene is in airport smoking room, they smoke first hand, second hand and many recycled smoke, sometime u dont see whether they are inhaling or exhaling. Those were the days that a lady seen smoking is frown upon, now it is stylish and cool to have a cigarette between ur fingers. Some ppl cannot balance a glass of water but u can see amazing acrobat of multitasking with cigarette in hand or in mouth. So in a nutshell there is always an excuse for a bad habit.

  8. Ryan said

    In Michigan there is legislation to ban smoking in all public places INCLUDING bars and restaurants. I can’t stand smoke so from that end I hope it passes. Conversely, I don’t like it when government gets overly involved in what people can and can’t choose to do.

    What do you think? Would you support something like this or is it the government stepping over the line?

  9. Smoking is a negative compulsive behavior, brought on by negative love, and is curable because negative love can be transcended.

    Our compulsive behaviors set us up to be rejected and unloved by those whose acceptance and love we most desire. If we win, we lose. This is the inevitable result of the Negative Love Syndrome.

  10. Masenka said

    Smoking is bad for your health, it has been established by scientific studies many times. But we shouldn’t forget there are many things in the air that harm our lungs like exhaust fumes and fine particles. Anything that we can do to clean the air for ourselves and our fellows we should do.

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