If you live or (like me) travel a lot to Asian countries, you will recognize this: During my trips I spend an average of 15 hours a day in meeting rooms. Many of my Asian colleagues are smokers who smoke cigarettes, hookah and bidis. Very often my meetings are planned in a meeting room where smoking is allowed. Dinners are organized in restaurants where smoking is permitted and smokers find themselves reaching for a cigarette and lighting it up automatically without thinking about non-smokers.
I don’t smoke. Should I be concerned about being around someone who does? Actually yes, because I am a secondhand smoker!
What is secondhand smoke?
Passive smoking means breathing in other people’s smoke. Exhaled smoke is called exhaled mainstream smoke. The smoke drifting from a lit cigarette, cigar or pipe is called sidestream smoke. The combination of mainstream and sidestream smoke is called second-hand smoke (SHS) or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS).
Why is secondhand smoke a problem?
It is estimated that only 15% of cigarette smoke is inhaled by the smoker. The remaining 85% lingers in the air for everyone to breathe. If a person spends more than two hours in a room where someone is smoking, the nonsmoker inhales the equivalent of four cigarettes.
Where is secondhand smoke a problem?
The workplace is a major source of secondhand smoke exposure for many adults. But you can also be exposed to secondhand smoke in homes, cars, hotels, and public places; such as bars, restaurants, and recreational settings.
The effects on your health
There is no safe exposure to secondhand smoke. When you are around a person who is smoking, you inhale the same dangerous chemicals as the smoker. Breathing even a little secondhand smoke can be dangerous.
The first global study into the effects of passive smoking has estimated it causes 600,000 deaths every year. You breathe in more than 4,000 chemicals when you are around someone who is smoking. The chemicals found in secondhand smoke hurt your health and many are known to cause cancer. Exposure to secondhand smoke has also been proven to increase the risk of developing lung cancer and nasal cancer. In addition, asthma, ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome have been linked to secondhand smoke.
What can you do?
Quitting smoking is the best way to prevent yourself and others from tobacco smoke exposure. Just stay away from it. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done.
What if you are not ready to quit?
At work and at public places: In my opinion, a safe and easy way to protect others from the harmful chemicals in secondhand smoke is by smoking in a separate smoking room, designated smoking area or smoking in a free standing smoking cabin.
A smoking room or designated smoking area is a room or location where smoking is allowed and which is specifically provided and furnished with a special filter technology for removing tobacco smoke and unpleasant odour. A smoking cabin is a free standing unit with a filtration system which removes tobacco smoke, improves/cleans the indoor air and recirculates the cleaned air.
Click on the below link for some useful tips on setting up a smoking room!
Practical tips for setting up a smoking room
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