Secondhand smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), is a mixture of the smoke exhaled by smokers (mainstream smoke) and the smoke given off by the burning end of tobacco products (sidestream smoke).
Studies show that secondhand smoke, similar to active smoking, can cause many fatal diseases such as heart diseases and cancers. Secondhand smoke contains a complex mixture of more than 7000 chemicals (e.g. cyanide, arsenic), of which at least 69 are carcinogens (e.g. nitrosamine, aldehyde, chromium). The concentrations of some toxins contained in sidestream smoke such as carbon monoxide, ammonia, benzene, hydrocarbon compounds etc, were found to be higher than mainstream smoke. In 1992, secondhand smoke was classified by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as "Group A carcinogen" and there is no risk-free level of exposure for secondhand smoke.
The acute effects of secondhand smoke to human include eye irritation, sore throat and cough. However, in the long run, studies showed that secondhand smoke can cause or associate with the following diseases:
At present, there are a number of smoking cessation services provided by the Department of Health (DH), the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, the United Christian Nethersole Community Health Service, the Pok Oi Hospital, the Hospital Authority and various organisations. Some family doctors and private hospitals also provide smoking cessation services. Members of the public can call the DH's Integrated Smoking Cessation Hotline at 1833 183 or click here for more information.
Smoking is the major preventable cause of death. For yourself and your family’s health, quit smoking now.
1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014