Some of the main risks of second hand smoke exposure are heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis. The risks of second hand smoke exposure are greater for babies and small children. There is a greater risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) to babies who live in homes where people smoke regularly. Additionally, pregnant women who are exposed to second hand smoke may end up giving birth to babies with low birth weight or delivering prematurely.
Many people believe that they are safe from the risks of second hand smoke as long as they do not allow smoking in their home or other areas they frequent. Studies have shown that coming in contact with people who smoke, even if they do not smoke inside a person's immediate living areas, can still put a person in contact with the dangerous chemicals in most tobacco products. When a person smokes, the residue from the smoke he exhales tends to remain on his clothing and skin. Residue from smoke typically contains dangerous substances like arsenic, formaldehyde, and benzene.
Second hand smoke exposure may be responsible for as many as 3,000 cancer-related deaths each year. Many people who do not smoke, but live with people who do, often get cancer and other diseases that are directly connected to tobacco use. Additionally, children and babies who live in or are taken to homes where people smoke tend to get more infections than children who are not exposed to smoke. Pregnant women are also not completely safe from the risks to their unborn children if they come in contact with smokers during pregnancy.
A person who wants to avoid second hand smoke exposure may be able to do so by forbidding anyone to smoke in his home or car. It may also be a good idea for parents who are concerned about their child's exposure to second hand smoke to make sure they do not leave the child in the care of babysitters or family members who smoke. A person might be able to limit second hand smoke exposure by avoiding places of business that allow smoking. If a person is in a situation where second hand smoke exposure cannot be avoided, it is probably best for her to keep as much distance as possible between herself and anyone who is smoking. Some people have a hard time distancing themselves from close family members who smoke, but it may be possible to convince a relative to kick the smoking habit by explaining the dangers and offering complete support throughout the quitting process.