June 07, 2007

Second Hand Smoke Hurts Kids

So yet another study is out detailing the dangers of second hand smoke; this time the research focuses on the damage it does to kids who are exposed to it.

Said one of the researchers: "Even a little exposure to smoke at home or in the public environment can be harmful to the cardiovascular system of healthy schoolchildren."

Second hand smoke is a known killer; every day non-smokers who have to breathe it die of lung cancer and heart disease.

The whole issue makes Crabby very angry. People who don't choose to smoke themselves should not have to endure the associated health risks. Especially not children.

The fact that smoking is harmful is not news--people younger than about 50 years old knew damn well when they started that they were risking their health. Crabby knows nicotine addiction is incredibly powerful; had she become a smoker herself she's not sure she would have been able to quit, though she certainly hopes so.

But if she hears one more smoker whining about how his "right" to smoke in public places is somehow more fundamental than the rights of others not to die of cancer, she's going to slap someone--and it's not going to be a non-smoker.

Crabby figured out by the time she was about ten years old that if smoking was bad for people, breathing second hand smoke was probably not too good for you either. She has been waiting since that time for the rest of society to catch up so that she and all the other nonsmokers out there don't have to choke on any more obnoxious and dangerous smoke. Times are finally changing, a bit. But people are still taking up the foolish habit and other people around them are still having to deal with the consequences.

Crabby lives in a metropolitan area that actually bans smoking in most indoor public places--but even this isn't quite enough to keep it at bay. At some of the trendy bars, for example, smoking seems to be making a comeback. (Crabby is not the least bit trendy, but she has friends who are, so she's found herself at these places on rare occasions).

She was appalled the first time she saw people at one of these places starting to light up. Surely they knew it wasn't allowed? However no one said a word. It was clear everyone was just supposed to just shut up and be "cool" about it. How could this be happening again?

"Would you mind putting that out?"

Crabby has braved the wrath of those around her to ask that question, but it makes her feel like a freak. She longs for the day when no one has to say it anymore because it will seem so obvious: smoking indoors, in public, is unacceptable. Unfortuately, we're not there yet.


  1. Poet likes what Crabby has to say. Being an ex-smoker, Poet understands both sides of the issue, but *never* - even as a pack-and-a-half-a-day man - believed that the 'right' to smoke trumped the need to consider others' rights and wishes.

    You're right; smokers need to get a clue. Even when I sneak one (and it's been a few years since I have), it's only with permission of everyone in the area.

    (Now if I can clear the fug of my own smugness from the air....)

  2. As long as tobacco remains a legal product smokers will assert their rights to offend the air we breathe.
    I'm an ex-smoker and I can tell you first-hand that in the main, smokers are obnoxious louts.
    Good for you for telling/asking obnoxious louts to put it out.

  3. Oh man, I hear that.

    In fact I have very little to add, except major props.

    The whole "it's my right to smoke, deal with it" thing really gets my goat. And I like my goat, and want him back.

  4. NZ brought in legislation against smoking indoors in a public place last year. Caused quite a stir at the times and a few hotel owners were fined for ignoring it, but seems to be fairly accepted now.

    There are enough ways to kill yourself with out choking to death on second hand smoke!

  5. One of the things that drives me nuts when I'm at the cancer treatment center I go to is the number of smokers who hang out by all the doors. I don't even know how many times I've had to point out to people that they're supposedly in a no smoking zone. I mean SHEESH! It's a CANCER treatment center. Hello!

    Granted, I'm in North Carolina, but even here the times are changing in re: tobacco use and perception.

    Full disclosure: I'm an ex-smoker. It's been nearly six years since I last had a cigarette.

  6. Hi Poet, welcome back!

    (Poet is quite charming in third person!) And yeah, I need some sort of high-powered fan for my own little smugness cloud, which gets kind of obnoxious at times.

    Hi leah!
    I think many smokers are very charming people--it's just the smoke that's obnoxious. I'm always impressed, too, by ex-smokers. I hear it's total hell to quit; glad you managed.

    Adrienne--are you sure Leah doesn't have your goat over at her blog? I hear she seduces goats away from their rightful owners with promises of brimming lunch pails. Gotta watch that girl.

    Hooray for New Zealand! A most civilized country. Glad to hear the stir died down too--nice to see the trend going in the right direction.

    Hi Virginia Lee!
    I love that the subtitle of your blog is "I ain't dead yet!" Good thing, too. And I agree with the "sheesh" about smoking right in the doorway of a cancer center! Thanks for stopping by.

  7. re: smoking in front of doors

    There are few things that piss me off more than crowds of smokers who feel the need to mob doorways!! Aaargh!!

    Look, smokers, I know it's sometimes cold or rainy or whatever outside. But you know what? It is just as cold or rainy or whatever next to the door as it is 20 feet *away* from the door. So if you're going to form a mob, why don't you form it there, plskthx!

    And, frankly, dare I say it, you knew we got winter/rain/whatever here when you chose to take up smoking and/or move here, so quit whining about it.

    Ahh. I feel better. :)

  8. Cotinine tests are flawed as they will pick up nicotine levels from members of the nightshade family; which most of us commonly eat. I am an epi-researcher and we use. Make sure you have read the study and the conclusions follow the statistics. Like many of the studies you mention this one has methodological problems. Until researchers start behaving more ethically and designing studies which include relevant variables the meta-analytic state of second hand smoke research will be nothing more chance. And remember, there is no such thing as unbiased research.

  9. I was in a public building at a convention. I chose to take the stairs because the elevators were filled with lines waiting to get on. (Anyways, I thought great - I'll get some exercise) The stairs were filled with smoke. NO SMOKING signs posted everywhere in the stairwells. As I held my breath and ran up flights of stairs, not only was I irritated because my clothes were now going to smell, because I had to take big gulps of air from going UPstairs but at each landing there were people smoking. I've never understood the mind set of smokers as they sit by NO SMOKING signs how they don't think this pertains to them. I really try to be tolerant of people but this one I have a hard time with. I kindly reminded them of the no smoking signs, but as someone else commented "smokers are obnoxious louts". They had some very choice words for me. I really do not understand their ways of thinking.

  10. Hi Chicken Girl!
    Yes, doesn't a nice rant feel good? Ahhhhh. Sort of like exercise, only not as demanding, thank goodness.

    Hi anonymous,
    Well I can't speak to the underlying methodological issues of this particular study (or else this would be an actual scholarly blog and not just a whiny one). But is there really a huge debate out there on whether second hand smoke is a health risk? I don't think I just made that up--if all the other studies have been wrong so far, you've got a bigger public education problem than setting the readers of Cranky Fitness straight, all ten of them.

    Actually, I don't mean to be so snippy about it, I really do appreciate the information. And it's good that you've gone beyond the headline, which i don't do often enough, myself. I'm just not sure what other scientific studies we're supposed to use, and whether you think second hand smoke is really is perfectly healthy to breathe.

    Hi MollySkinnyHips2b!
    Yes, I love the way any sort of reminder about nonsmoking, no matter how gently put ("Oh, you probably didn't realize, but...") and all of a sudden, we're the assh*les for having said something.

  11. Amen to that Crabby. Smoking is so vile, and I hate it how they disrespect out clean air. :(

  12. I think smoking around others (nonsmokers) should constitute assault. I have asthma and so if I sprayed my inhalers in those peoples' face that is what it would be. They are not going to pay my bills for all the extra meds I have to take. I live in KY, a tobacco state. Smoking is still pretty much everywhere.

  13. I'm continually baffled why people still choose to smoke that first cigarette. Don't get it.

  14. I with ya, Sera! And thanks for stopping by so regularly and hanging out with Crabby--she really, really, appreciates it.

    Hi Anonymous,
    I would find it hard to live somewhere where smoking was so prevalent--but Kentucky has many nice things going for it too I guess. Good luck with the asthma--that must be so hard to be around cigarette smoke!

    Hi Katieo!
    I know it seems so dumb. But then I have to confess I experimented a bit myself as a youth--it was just dumb luck I stopped fooling around with cigarettes before I got hooked. Common sense and adolescence don't really seem to go hand and hand.

  15. Ok, I am going to take a different tack here...I agree with all of the comments about disliking smoking. However, I think instead of getting all irate at the smokers we need to see them as the addict-victims that they are. If we want to get irate it should be with tobacco companies. Why do we look the other way as they continue to market and profit from a product that is a knwn killer?!?!? A product that is so bad that they actually financially support programs to help you stop using their products!


    Next time you get angry at seeing a smoker, take the anger that you feel and direct it a tobacco company. Toward that smoker you should send prayers, good thoughts, kharma or whatever you feel helps. Look at that person as someone who is addicted to a drug that was marketed to them since their childhood and is stuck with an addiction that they are probably as disgusted with as you are.

    OK, I am stepping down from my soap box now.

  16. In response: In no way am I saying SHS is healthy, however, I am not saying it is unhealthy either. All I am saying is at this point in time, we don't have the empirical evidence to tip the scales in one direction or the other. In order to determine that the relationship between SHS and some outcome is not spurious we need to add additional variables to the model. For example, exposure to radon, urban vs. rural environment, amount of vegetables consumed from the nightshad family during the 72-96 hours preceeding the cotinine test, family history, age, genetic variables. I too have had a difficult time getting this particular article as it has not reached the paperback version of Circulation yet. This is a very vehement issue which is not yet empiraclly resolved. While certainly any person with an ounce of common sense would reason SHS is bad, we simply cannot say that with accuracy and generalize that to everyone until we know what other variables may be contributing to the outcome under study. We breathe in a lot of nasty stuff throughout the day cigarettes being lower on the offender list without regulating those. I worry when we begin legislating each others behavior or more simply when government becomes to involved in our daily lives. We all have rights, liberties, and freedoms lets make sure we are right before we infringe on others. I truly appreciate all the evocative comments, sharing of personal experiences, and the freedom to post in this type of areana. Let us all hope the right to be in this blog is never legislated away because it offended someone or was show to cause increased blood pressure and possibly heart attack. Informed cranks can be the most persuasive at times :-)

  17. Hi Holly,
    Yeah, it's a tough one, because it is an addiction--and if society says to an addicted person, "yeah, it's okay to smoke here, even though you may be harming others around you," it's sort of human nature to go "okay, good enough for me, they say it's okay here."

    I get particularly angry though at smokers who do know they're not supposed to be smoking somewhere, but refuse to go outside because the value their own comfort over the health of others.

    But you make some great points about addiction and how many smokers wish they could quit, and that perhaps some compassion is in order. (I feel way more compassionate, however, when they go outside!) Thanks!

    And hi anonymous,
    Thanks for returning and for keeping the discourse at such an elevated level, even though we may disagree a bit about the free market stuff. (I'm a big free market champion in some areas, but health and safety issues tend to be a be a big exception for me).

    I appreciate the information you're offering and wish I had a better background in such things to be able to evaluate the arguments more carefully. (But I do tend to be influenced by the "common sense" aspect to the dangers of second hand smoke, given the carcinogens in cigarettes).

    Thanks for coming by again!

  18. http://allafrica.com/stories/200706070841.html
    Excellent article on the hazards of smoking.
    PS Very nice site you have developed here, Crabby!

  19. Thanks Dr. J,
    Also thanks for the article and for stopping by Cranky Fitness!

  20. You know, it doesn't take a second thought to understand the mindset of smokers: They're addicted. Addicts need their fix. Nonsmokers' interests are secondary at best. My mother was a lifelong smoker, a pack or more a day. Tried to quit a number of times, without success. She smoked at home, but when traveling by car, she kept her side-vent window open so the smoke would be pulled out. Still, I grew up with second-hand smoke. Do I have respiratory problems? No. Am I going to get cancer? Not in my game plan. My mother never did...

  21. Appleton,

    Not getting cancer--good game plan.

    My parents did the same thing, with the magical car window vent. They smoked throughout the house too. Probably, with all the years that have passed since then, it's not that big a deal. Just one of many carcinogenic exposures we've had in our lifetimes. But still--I would hope they'd handle it differently if they had it to do over.


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