We’ve written about how smoking is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the US. We’ve also highlighted some of the treatments that our 4,000+ members who report tobacco addiction have tried in their quest to quit.
But today, in honor of World No Tobacco Day, we’d like to focus on the global consequences of secondhand smoke, or the smoke that fills restaurants, offices, homes and other enclosed spaces when people burn tobacco products. Given that there are one billion smokers around the world, secondhand smoke (also known as “passive smoking”) has become a serious public health issue.
How serious? Deadly serious. Here are ten hard-hitting facts from the World Health Organization (WHO), the sponsor of World No Tobacco Day.
- There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke.
- There are more than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, of which at least 250 are known to be harmful.
- More than 600,000 premature deaths are caused by secondhand smoke each year.
- In 2004, children accounted for 31% of the deaths attributable to secondhand smoke.
- Over 40% of children around the world have at least one parent who smokes.
- Almost half of all children regularly breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke.
- Secondhand smoke can cause sudden death in infants and low birth weight in pregnant women.
- Cigarettes, bidis and water pipes all produce secondhand smoke.
- Less than 11% of the world’s population is protected by comprehensive national smoke-free laws.
- Research shows that smoke-free laws do not harm business – and in fact, are popular.
Want to show your support for World No Tobacco Day? Join the cause on Facebook. If you live in the US, you can also check this map to see your state or city’s laws regarding smoking in restaurants, bars and workplaces.