In a recent research by WHO, it was revealed that passive smoking can be a leading cause of various infections other than respiratory problems in children, especially infants. Dr AK Nigam, nodal officer, Tobacco Control Cell, said that indirect exposure to tobacco smoke weakens the immune system of children and increases the risk of morbidity.
Dr. R P Yadav, chief medical officer of Kanpur district said that children exposed to second-hand smoke have an increased risk of developing pneumonia, bronchitis, reduced lung growth and asthma or worsen the situation if a child has it.
According to Americans for Nonsmokers’ rights, children are more exposed to second-hand smoke than adults are. Pregnant mothers, who are exposed to passive smoking, may give birth to low birth weight babies. The babies may also suffer from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), middle ear infection, cognitive impairments, behavioural problems and respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis. Exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke also raises the risk of metabolic syndrome - a disorder in which excessive belly fat accumulates and shoots up one's chances of heart disease, stroke and type II diabetes.
Not only children exposed to passive smoking, but also babies of mothers, who smoked throughout the pregnancy term, are at an increased asthma risk in the first five years of life. These babies have an IQ score that is almost 2.87 points lower than babies of non-smoking mothers.
First-hand smoking is far more dangerous than second-hand smoking. Dr. R P Yadav added that long-term consumption of tobacco could lead to arthritis, asthma, heart attack, hypertension, stroke and mouth, throat and lung cancer.
On May 31 every year, WHO observes World No Tobacco Day. On this day, people are made aware about the several hazards of tobacco consumption. As one of the primary causes of oral cancer, tobacco accounts for 30 to 50 per cent of all cancer cases in India.