We all know that smoking is bad for us. From the pictures on the front of cigarette packets showing lungs full of tar, to nightmare-inducing images of teeth full of rot and decay – it’s safe to say that the negative impact of smoking is well advertised.
But what about the dangers of second hand smoke?
While many of us are probably aware that second hand smoke is unhealthy, we usually assume that the risks of inhaling the cigarette smoke of others is less damaging than smoking a cigarette ourselves. And while that is, in some ways, true, we can’t discount exactly how dangerous second hand smoke can be.
I recently came across an article that suggested exposure to second hand smoke increased the risk of oral cancer by a shocking 51%. This is particularly concerning when you consider that, according to statistics, 35% of non-smokers and 40% of children have reported occasions where they have involuntarily inhaled second hand tobacco smoke.[i]
Arguably, an occasional inhalation of second hand smoke while walking past someone enjoying a cigarette is unlikely to make much of a difference. The problem emerges when this occurrence becomes too regular – for example, when parents smoke around their children or when a friend smokes in your presence on a regular basis.
Oral cancers are no laughing matter, and there are approximately 8,000 new cases every year – an increase of 97% since the year 2000. Furthermore, on average mouth cancers kill over 2,700 people per year in the UK, making them a significant problem.[ii]
So, what can you do to ensure that you are lowering the risk? With second hand smoke it’s not as straightforward as when you’re a smoker yourself, but there are some options available. The key here is information – if someone is smoking near you regularly and you want to keep yourself safe, there’s no harm in informing them about the risks of second hand smoke and asking them to save their cigarettes for when they’re not in your presence.
When going out, you can choose to visit venues that have strict non-smoking policies if you want to ensure that you are limiting second hand smoke exposure as much as possible. Of course, it’s inevitable that completely avoiding second hand smoke is not feasible in some situations, especially if you head to crowded venues where smoking is allowed such as pub gardens. In these cases, it’s best to just try to stay as far apart from smokers as possible – these outdoor areas will have lots of fresh air, so as long as you keep your distance you will inevitably inhale a far smaller amount of smoke.
In the end, second hand smoke is something that we should all be concerned about. Awareness is key, and as long as we are all informed of the risks and take steps to reduce second hand smoke inhalation as much as possible, we can drastically reduce our chances of developing oral cancers.
For further information please call EndoCare on 020 7224 0999
Or visit www.endocare.co.uk
[i] StudyFinds. Secondhand Smoke Exposure Significantly Increases Risk Of Developing Mouth Cancer. Link: https://www.studyfinds.org/secondhand-smoke-mouth-cancer/ [Last accessed May 21].
[ii] Dental Health. UK Mouth Cancer Cases Reach Record High. Link: https://www.dentalhealth.org/news/uk-mouth-cancer-cases-reach-record-high [Last accessed May 21].