Oral cancer can happen to non-smokers

Stop passive smoking - protect children

The new law on the protection of non-smokers came into force more than ten years ago. With success: the number of people who fell ill as a result of secondhand smoke has fallen continuously since then. The risks have become better known and some dishes now even consider smoking directly on other people as bodily harm.

But the danger is not completely averted. Because, especially in private surroundings, it is still difficult for many people to escape the smoke. This is especially true for children - unlike adults, they often have no influence on whether they are in a smoky environment. They also breathe faster, which means that the toxins get into their bodies faster in high concentrations. If children regularly smoke passively, high levels of harmful substances can quickly accumulate. The result: widespread health problems.

Tobacco smoke: pure poison for children

Passive smoking is particularly dangerous for unborn children. If an expectant mother smokes, the toxins are passed on to the unborn child via the umbilical cord. This can lead to premature birth or miscarriage. The child's lungs or other organs can also be permanently damaged.

The toxins of cigarette smoke are also very harmful to children later on. Studies show the extensive consequences that passive smoking can have in childhood, for example:

  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): The exact causes of sudden infant death syndrome are still not fully understood. However, it has been proven that children from smoking households are affected two to four times as often as non-smoking children.
  • cancer: Lung cancer in particular is promoted by active and passive smoking. However, a connection has already been established for cancer of the larynx and throat.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): New studies have shown that exposure to cigarette smoke from their parents increases their risk of dying of COPD as adults.
  • asthma : Passive smoking children not only have an increased risk of developing asthma - their attacks are on average more violent than those of other sick children.
  • Respiratory infections: Passive smoking often affects children's lung development. You are more likely to get bronchitis or pneumonia.
  • Cardiovascular diseases: Cigarette smoke causes blood vessels to constrict. This increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Mental symptoms: Initial studies suggest that secondhand smoke increases the likelihood of ADHD, behavioral problems and decreased cognitive abilities.

It hardly helps if the parents only smoke outside the home, because studies have shown that children of so-called balcony smokers also have a seven-fold higher exposure to tobacco pollutants. In addition to passive smoking, so-called third-hand smoke also plays a role here. This refers to smoke residues that are left on furniture, clothing or in dust, for example - and especially small children who crawl through the apartment then breathe them in.

Good to know: main and sidestream smoke

Around a quarter of the cigarette smoke - the so-called mainstream smoke - is inhaled by the smoker himself. The rest is released into the environment as sidestream smoke while the cigarette dies. What many do not know: Due to the different combustion temperatures, the two types of smoke are composed differently. Harmful substances are often much more concentrated in sidestream smoke - which makes passive smoking all the more dangerous.

How to protect your child

  • There is no harmless lower limit for passive smoking. In other words: every single cigarette that you give up is a contribution to your child's health. Experts recommend that couples who want to have children begin to quit smoking before their first pregnancy and that their home is as clean as possible of smoke residues.
  • Children are particularly stressed in small, closed rooms, for example in the car. Even after a single cigarette, the concentration of pollutants is similar to that in a smoking bar - even when a window is open, as practical tests show. You should therefore refrain from smoking in the car and ask your passengers to do so too.
  • Even when your child is not around, pollutants can adhere to wallpaper, surfaces, clothing and hair. Make your apartment a smoke-free room and keep windows and doors closed if, for example, guests smoke on the balcony or in the garden.
  • If your child spends time with friends or relatives, ask them not to smoke, at least in the presence of your child.