My sons were both under two years old and never got to know my dad due to his smoking habit. They were middle school age when my father-in-law passed away so they have memories of him, but most of those memories are of him being out of breath and unable to walk, along with his uncontrollable coughing.
Did you know that children who are raised by smokers are more likely to become smokers themselves? I am very proud of the fact that I nor any of my four siblings smoke and both of our parents were smokers! “Quit smoking today for those you love!”
Secondhand smoke is the combination of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette and the smoke breathed out by smokers. Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals. Hundreds are toxic and about 70 can cause cancer. Since the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report, 2.5 million adults who were nonsmokers died because they breathed secondhand smoke.There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Secondhand smoke causes numerous health problems in infants and children, including more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections, ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- Smoking during pregnancy results in more than 1,000 infant deaths annually.
- Some of the health conditions caused by secondhand smoke in adults include coronary heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer.
Protect Your Loved Ones
You may not realize it, but your decision to quit smoking will protect the people in your life. Smoking harms both you and the ones you love. Think about how quitting will make the people you care about happier and healthier. This will motivate you as you begin your quit journey.
What are the Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke?
Breathing in secondhand smoke over time can cause a number of health problems for non-smokers. They are more likely to have:
- Heart disease
- Breathing problems
- A harder time getting pregnant
- Colds and flu
- Irritated eyes, nose, and throat
Pregnant Women and Children
Secondhand smoke is especially dangerous for pregnant women, babies, and children.
Pregnant women who breathe in secondhand smoke over time are more likely to:
- Lose their babies
- Give birth to smaller babies
- Have their babies die of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
- Have babies who are cranky‚ restless‚ and get sick more often
- Have babies with learning problems
Children who breathe in secondhand smoke over time are more likely to have:
- More severe asthma attacks
- Bronchitis, pneumonia, and other breathing problems
- Coughing and wheezing
- Ear and lung infections
Other Ways Smoking Impacts Others
You may not realize it, but smoking affects the people in your life in ways beyond their health. When you smoke, you may miss out on:
- Spending time with your family and friends
- Having more money to spend on the people you love
- Setting a good example for your children.
An article on the Mayo Clinic website entitled “What is thirdhand smoke, and why is it a concern?” states thirdhand smoke is generally considered to be residual nicotine and other chemicals left on a variety of indoor surfaces by tobacco smoke. This residue is thought to react with common indoor pollutants to create a toxic mix. This toxic mix of thirdhand smoke contains cancer-causing substances, posing a potential health hazard to nonsmokers who are exposed to it, especially children. Studies show that thirdhand smoke clings to hair, skin, clothes, furniture, drapes, walls, bedding, carpets, dust, vehicles and other surfaces, even long after smoking has stopped. Infants, children and nonsmoking adults may be at risk of tobacco-related health problems when they inhale, ingest or touch substances containing thirdhand smoke.
Prepare to Quit
We get it, quitting is hard. But it is easier if you prepare ahead of time. When you feel like you are ready to quit, START by following these five steps:
- Set a Quit Date
Pick a date within the next two weeks to quit smoking. This will give you enough time to prepare. Really think about your quit date. Avoid choosing a day where you know you will be busy, stressed, or tempted to smoke (for example, a night out with friends, days where you may smoke at work).
- Tell Family and Friends You Plan to Quit
Quitting smoking is easier when the people in your life support you. Let them know you are planning to quit. Explain how they can help you quit. We all need different things, so be sure you let friends and family know exactly how they can help. Not sure what you need? Here are a few ways to START the conversation:
- Tell family and friends your reasons for quitting.
- Ask your friends and family to check in with you to see how things are going.
- Identify your smoking triggers, and ask your friends and family to help you deal with them.
- Ask your friends and family to help you think of smokefree activities you can do together (like going to the movies or a nice restaurant).
- Know a friend or family member who smokes? Ask them to quit with you, or at least not smoke around you.
- You are going to be tempted to smoke. Ask your friends and family not to let you have a cigarette—no matter what.
- Let your friends and family know that you may be in a bad mood while quitting; ask them to be patient and help you through it.
- Do you take any medicines? Tell your doctor or pharmacist you are quitting. You may need to change your prescriptions after you quit.
Support is one of the keys to successfully quitting. Check out additional support options to help you quit.
- Anticipate and Plan for Challenges While Quitting
Quitting smoking is hardest during the first few weeks. You will deal with uncomfortable feelings, temptations to smoke, withdrawal symptoms, and cigarette cravings. An important part of preparing to quit is anticipating these challenges. To get a head START, be aware of the following:
The first few weeks after quitting, a lot of people may feel uncomfortable and will crave a cigarette. This is because of withdrawal. Withdrawal is when your body gets used to not having nicotine from cigarettes. Nicotine is the chemical found in cigarettes that makes you want to keep smoking. Some of the more common feelings that come with withdrawal are:
- Feeling a little depressed
- Not being able to sleep
- Getting cranky, frustrated, or mad
- Feeling anxious, nervous, or restless
- Having trouble thinking clearly
You may be tempted to smoke to relieve these feelings. Just remember that they are temporary, no matter how powerful they feel at the time.
Triggers are specific persons, places, or activities that make you feel like smoking. It is important to know your smoking triggers so you can learn to deal with them.
Cravings are short but intense urges to smoke. They usually only last a few minutes. Plan ahead and come up with a list of short activities you can do when you get a craving.
- Remove Cigarettes and Other Tobacco From Your Home‚ Car‚ and Work
You will be tempted to smoke during your quit. Stay strong; you can do it! Removing things that remind you of smoking will get you ready to quit. Try these tips:
- Throw away all your cigarettes and matches. Give or throw away your lighters and ashtrays. Remember the ashtray and lighter in your car!
- Don’t save one pack of cigarettes “just in case.’ Keeping one pack just makes it easier to start smoking again.
- Remove the smell of cigarettes from your life. Make things clean and fresh at work‚ in your car‚ and at home. Clean your drapes and clothes. Shampoo your car. You will be less tempted to light up if you don’t smell smoke.
- Have your dentist clean your teeth to get rid of smoking stains. Your teeth will look amazing. When you quit smoking, they will always look that way.
Don’t Use Other Products with Tobacco
Thinking about using other tobacco products instead of cigarettes? Think again. All tobacco products contain harmful chemicals and poisons. Despite their name, light or low-tar cigarettes are just as bad as regular cigarettes. Smokeless tobacco‚ pipes‚ cigars‚ cigarillos‚ hookahs (waterpipes)‚ bidi cigarettes‚ clove cigarettes‚ and herbal cigarettes also hurt your health.
No matter how they are presented in advertisements‚ all tobacco products are dangerous.
- Talk to Your Doctor or Pharmacist About Quit Options
It is difficult to quit smoking on your own, but quitting “cold turkey” is not your only choice. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about other support options. Most doctors and pharmacists can answer your questions, give advice, and tell you where to get quit smoking help.
Quit smoking medications are also an effective quit option. Many quit smoking medicines, especially Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), are available without a prescription. This includes the nicotine patch, nicotine gum, or nicotine lozenge. Read the instructions before using any medications. If you have questions about a medication, ask your pharmacist. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, consult your doctor before using any type of medication. If you plan on using quit smoking medications, remember to have them available on your quit day. Visit our medications page to learn more.
If you need help right away, you can talk to a quit smoking counselorby phone or online.
You can also get on the go quit support through your mobile phone with the SmokefreeTXT text messaging program.