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Passive Smoking


Draw a cartoon or animation to describe passive smoking.

A is in his groups of friends who were smoking. He later talked to B about his experience

Adolescent A: I was with my friends just now. I am so happy that I can still continue to sit with my friends who smoke but still remain a non smoker. I pity my friends. They should stop smoking because it is dangerous and not good to health.

Adolescent B: You should have pity on yourself too. Since you hang around with them when they were smoking, that means you are a passive smoker.

Adolescent B: (puzzled and confused). Passive smoker??!!

What is passive smoking?

A person who smokes is called an active smoker. Passive smoking is inhaling the smoke produced by the active smoker unintentionally or without realising.

Is passive smoking dangerous? How am I involved?

Yes, you are involved!!

When an active smoker smokes, the smoke from the tip and the smoke breathed out is released into the air. This smoke can stay in the air up to two and a half hours even with the windows  open. If you can’t see or smell it, it does not mean that it is not there.

This can happen at home, at work, at public places and even in enclosed area like in the car. Do you know about the chemical contents  in a cigarette? A cigarette is said to contain 7000 chemicals including some which is known to be carcinogenic and able to cause cancer in the long run. Among these chemicals are TAR acetone, acetic acid, ammonia, arsenic, benzene, butane, formaldehyde, lead, nicotine etc. So a passive smoker will also be exposed to all these chemicals and be at risk of  developing:

  1. Cancer, such as

    • Lung cancer

    • Breast cancer

    • Kidneys cancer

    • Brain tumour

    • Cancer of the mouth, lips and bladder including the voice box

    • Stomach cancer

    • Liver cancer

    • Pancreatic cancer

  2. Heart disease.

    • Heart attack

    • Angina

    • Heart failure

  3. Respiratory diseases

    • Bronchitis

    • Emphysema

    • Pneumonia

    • Asthma

  4. Cerebrovascular problems (because of damaged blood vessel to the brain)

    • Stroke

    • Dementia or forgetfulness

  5. Skin disorder

  6. Allergy

  7. Hearing loss

If your mother or if someone you know is pregnant and is a passive smoker, she is at risk of:

  1. Delivering a low birth weight baby

  2. Going into labour prematurely (delivering much earlier than the expected date)

  3. Having an abortion

  4. Delivering a ’dead baby’

Do you have a baby brother/sister at home? Do you know children too can have problems if they are exposed to the smoke from the active smokers around them? The children are at risk of:

  1. SIDS ( Sudden infants death syndrome)

  2. Asthma

  3. Respiratory diseases like bronchitis, bronchiolitis and pneumonia

  4. Meningitis

  5. Allergies and coughs and cold

  6. Learning difficulties developmental delays and neurobehavioral problems

  7. Ear infection (Otitis media)

  8. Impotence

  9. Reduced fertility

What should I do?

The most important thing to do is don’t start smoking. However there are a few things that you can consider

  • If your friends are smoking, don’t be around them when they are smoking. Make the place you guys hang around a smoke free area. Get your friends to respect your choice of not smoking

  • Advice your friends and loved ones to stop smoking

  • Make your home a smoke free home

How to help your friends and loved ones stop smoking?

Most of the government health clinics have a quit smoking service. Get them to register in one of these clinics. The treatment that will be given includes:

  • Giving more information about smoking via distributing information pamphlets

  • Individual or group counselling

  • Support and assistance from those who have successfully stopped smoking

Depending on the needs, those who want to stop smoking may be given:

  1. Nicotine Replacement Therapy in the form of

    • Patch

    • Chewing gum

    • Inhaler (may not be present in government services)

  1. Stop smoking medications

    • Bupropion

    • Varenicline

What about smokes from smoking shisha, cigars, pipe tobacco and hand-rolling tobacco?

The problem is from the burning of tobacco. So irrespective of how the tobacco is used, the smoke it produced is still able to cause the same harms.

Keep yourself and family safe. Do not smoke and help our family live in a smoke free area all the time.

Last Reviewed : 7 April 2014
Content Writer : Dr. Salmah binti Nordin