Secondhand Smoke 101

The smoker only inhales 15% of the nicotine in a cigarette. Side-stream smoke is different than secondhand smoke because it’s the smoke that is coming directly off the end of a lit cigarette vs exhaled smoke (secondhand smoke, mainstream smoke).  Mainstream smoke and secondhand smoke (SHS) are the same.  According to false claims, nicotine is heavy and falls so the ground within seconds.  Science has proved this not only to be completely false but also that it lingers in the air for very long periods of time.

One thing to keep in mind about the research is that SHS may wake up nicotine receptors for those of us who have quit.  It’s not a 100% guaranteed pathway for nagging cravings to start, but it’s something that the former smoker must be aware of and more importantly, accept the facts as we know them today about SHS.

There are many variables that will affect how much nicotine (if any) that you’re getting through breathing SHS or side-stream smoke.  Some people will choose not to believe the research or will find other studies to contradict the reality of SHS.  Remember the 1950’s through the end of the 1990’s when the big tobacco companies hired their own doctors and researchers mislead their customers and the FDA?  Believe it or not, big tobacco is back at it trying to prove that testing done on lab animals does not translate into similar effects in humans.  The research is out there but you have to consider the source and who and what is behind the studies.  Below are some links to the research that I find most useful in explaining SHS.

A couple of key facts that you should take away from this; SHS should be avoided, be aware that SHS or side-stream smoke can cause cravings and of course the obvious, aside from nicotine, you’re exposing yourself to all of the poisons that are contained in cigarette smoke and putting your health at risk by doing so.  The bottom line is that cigarette smoke is hazardous to your health and should be avoided.

Conclusions Nicotine from SHS exposure results in substantial brainα4β2* nAChR occupancy in smokers and nonsmokers. Study findings suggest that such exposure delivers a priming dose of nicotine to the brain that contributes to continued cigarette use in smokers. This study has implications for both biological research into the link between SHS exposure and cigarette use and public policy regarding the need to limit SHS exposure in cars and other enclosed spaces.

“Exposure to secondhand smoke, such as a person can get by riding in an enclosed car while someone else smokes, has a direct, measurable impact on the brain — and the effect is similar to what happens in the brain of the person doing the smoking. In fact, exposure to this secondhand smoke evokes cravings among smokers, according to a study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health.”

“These results show that even limited secondhand smoke exposure delivers enough nicotine to the brain to alter its function,” said NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D. “Chronic or severe exposure could result in even higher brain nicotine levels, which may explain why secondhand smoke exposure increases vulnerability to nicotine addiction.”…011/nida-02.htm

“When you breathe in smoke that comes from the end of a lit cigarette, cigar, or pipe (sidestream smoke) or that is exhaled by a smoker (mainstream smoke), you’re inhaling almost the same amount of chemicals as the smoker breathes in. Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 different chemical compounds, more than 50 of which are known to cause cancer.”…econdhand-smoke

“When a nonsmoker breathes in secondhand smoke, the body begins to metabolize or break down the nicotine that was in the smoke. During this process, a nicotine byproduct called cotinine is created. Exposure to nicotine and secondhand smoke can be measured by testing saliva, urine, or blood for the presence of cotinine.”

“For nonsmokers, breathing secondhand smoke has immediate harmful effects on the cardiovascular system that can increase the risk for heart attack. People who already have heart disease are at especially high risk.”…l_facts/#adults

“It is estimated that only 15% of cigarette smoke gets inhaled by the smoker. The remaining 85% lingers in the air for everyone to breathe. If a person spends more than two hours in a room where someone is smoking, the nonsmoker inhales the equivalent of four cigarettes.  Secondhand smoke is the third leading preventable cause of disability and early death (after active smoking and alcohol) in the United States. For every eight smokers who die from smoking, one innocent bystander dies from secondhand smoke.”…dhandsmoke.html

“Even though we think of these as the same, they aren’t. Sidestream smoke has higher concentrations of cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) than mainstream smoke. And, it has smaller particles than mainstream smoke, which make their way into the lungs and the body’s cells more easily.”  http://www.cancer.or…econdhand-smoke

Georg E. Matt, study leader and a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, along with a team of researchers…

“Twenty-five non-smokers then moved into homes that were previously owned by smokers, and researchers again checked nicotine/chemical residues throughout the homes, on fingertips and in urine. After careful measurements, researchers concluded that nicotine levels in the air throughout the homes, which were vacant for two months after the smokers moved out, were 35 to 98 times as high “as they were in non-smoker homes.” As far as surfaces go, nicotine levels were 30 to 150 times as high in the former smokers’ homes compared to the homes of non-smokers.”  http://www.dailytech…rticle20430.htm

Lots of info on 3rd hand smoke such as above.  Now, imagine the levels of nicotine in a house with someone who smokes.



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