Tag Archives: secondhand smoke

Ah, the good ol’ days, when people really smoked around babies


I normally try to stay clear from partisan politics here, but here is a funny video from MoveOn.org about Trump’s campaign slogan of “Make America Great Again.”

In the video, two women dressed in 1950s pearls and hoop skirts sing about the good ol’ days of sexual harassment, domestic abuse, segregation, date rape and the days, “before we even knew that gays had rights.”

What cracked me up is later in the video, they’re both smoking around a baby. Yeah, the good ol’ days, when millions of parents smoked around their kids and gave their kids asthma, ear infections and upper respiratory infections from their omnipresent secondhand smoke. You youngins today might not believe it, but this was absolutely normal back then. It just boggles my mind today what people did to their kids 50, 60 years ago.

As an aside, I honestly can’t remember the last time I actually witnessed someone smoking around a child. It’s been at least five or six years. I remember it clearly, it was in a car parked in a parking lot of a mini-mart, a couple of idiots in the front seat smoking with a toddler strapped in his child seat in the back. I just wanted to slap those people.

So, that’s pretty good in that I personally haven’t seen anything like that in at least five or six years. But, they’re still out there — those idiots, but they’re pretty few and far between. The vast majority of smokers today know full well not to smoke around their — or other people’s — kids.

Here’s the video. Again, as usual, enjoy it while you can, because I never know when YouTube is going to take these things down:




Childhood exposure to secondhand smoke raises risk for COPD among smoking adults

This is totally not Shutterstock.

An interesting study about the longterm effects of secondhand smoke on children suggests that children exposed to cigarette smoking from their mothers are more likely to develop COPD as adults if they end up smoking themselves.

In this survey from Australia, it was found that smokers were nearly three times as likely to develop COPD if they were exposed to their mother’s secondhand smoke as a child … if their mother smoked a pack a day or more.


On this article from MedPage Today:

“While the potential as a COPD risk factor for adult offspring has not been comprehensively documented, our study suggests that the early life exposure to maternal smoking may increase an individual’s susceptibility to the harms of personal smoking in later life,” the researchers wrote. “Identifying those most at risk might provide an opportunity for a more individualized approach to the prevention of COPD.”

“Maternal smoking adversely affects the ventilatory function of offspring, including neonates, infants, children and adolescents,” they wrote. “The idea that maternal smoking exposure might predispose to COPD in later life appears largely based on these pediatric studies, and of the few adult studies, only one examined pre-bronchodilator (BD) spirometry as a categorical outcome.”

“This study provides further evidence for mother’s smoking to influence the lung function in children when measured in middle-age,” she noted, adding that they also reinforce public health messages warning pregnant women and mothers with children in the home not to smoke.


This study just talks about smoking by mothers. It doesn’t discuss both parents. My parents smoked six packs a day between them (no exaggeration, they really did), and I worry to this day about the longterm damage done to my lungs the first 15 years of my life. However, I’ve never smoked, so I’m hoping my personal risk of developing COPD is pretty minimal.

It just shows to me how the damage done by cigarette smoking gets passed down from one generation to another, both by setting an example to smoke and by all the physical, longterm damage done to kids’ bodies. This has been going on for generation after generation for over 100 years.

This post isn’t intended to spit on smokers. I know people didn’t know better 30 or 40 years ago. At least today, the vast majority of smokers know better than to smoke around their kids.  I think I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen someone smoking around kids in the past five years.

The researchers state more study needs to be done (I hope any further study also look at the smoking by both parents).


Study: Kids’ exposure to secondhand smoke raises danger of heart disease as adults


A study recently released out of Finland suggests that secondhand smoke not only damages lung health around kids, it damages their circulatory system to the point of raising the risk of heart disease when they are adults.

What researchers found in this 20-year study is that kids exposed to nicotine from their parents’ smoking tend to have an added build-up of carotid plaque in their blood vessels as adults — the kind of plaque that causes heart disease.

Just more fuel to the fire about the damage down by secondhand smoke, especially to kids. Secondhand smoke has been shown to cause and worsen lung and bronchial infections, aggravate asthma, cause ear infections among children and even increase the risk of sudden-death syndrome. There are still people claiming secondhand smoke doesn’t kill or even harm anyone (Libertarian stooge John Stossel comes to mind), but those voices have grown more and more quiet over the past 10 years since I’ve been involved in the tobacco control debate. They were pretty loud ten years ago, but nobody listens to them anymore, just like most everyone stopped listening 30 years ago to those people still trying to claim smoking didn’t give smokers lung cancer.

Heart disease and blood vessel plaque buildup … you can add to the afflictions caused by secondhand smoke.

I once did a little math exercise that really scared me. You’re going to find this number hard to believe, but bare with me … it is a shocking number.

I estimate that for the first 16 years of my life, my parents smoked between them roughly five to six packs a day. To be conservative, let’s call that 100 cigarettes a day. Say, I was exposed to their smoking for 8 hours of the day — one-third of that 100 — that’s 33 cigarettes a day. Say, I actually ingested 10 percent of their smoke into my lungs — that’s 3.3 cigarettes a day.

That’s 3.3 cigarettes a day, 365 days a year, for 16+ years. That comes out to the equivalent of roughly 20,000 cigarettes. So I estimate that just from my parents alone, not counting my brother and sister who smoked, not counting all of my parents’ friends who smoked — and they pretty much all did — I breathed in the equivalent smoke of 20,000 cigarettes from the time I was a baby in a crib to until I was  16. My dad died when I was 16, so that number probably dropped off afterward. 20,000 cigarettes in my still developing lungs. No wonder I had such bad bronchitis as a teenager, no wonder I had chronic problems with bronchitis until I turned 30.

And now it makes me wonder whether it’s going to catch up with me with heart disease. I’ve already had one circulatory system scare.

I’m not bitter or angry at my parents about it and I hope I don’t come off like a whiner — it’s just that that 20,000 figure continues to blow me away. They didn’t know (though, without trying to sound bitter about it, I will always wonder why the thought never seemed to cross their minds that all that smoke might not be good for their kids. My mom loves to tell a story about how they had to leave Canada because it was so cold and her husband and my brother had pneumonia because of the cold. Cold weather doesn’t cause pneumonia. I have to bite my tongue every time she tells that story, because I want to say to her, “Mom, it wasn’t the cold weather that was giving dad and the kids pneumonia, it was probably the cigarettes more than anything …” But, to keep the peace, I never come out and say that.)

Anyway, most smokers know better today. I wish 100 percent of smokers knew better, but I still shake my head at the nitwits who in this day and age still smoke around kids. I bend over backward not to pass judgement on smokers, except when I see people smoking in a car with kids or otherwise blowing smoke in kids’ faces. Then I have a hard time not glaring.

One in four nonsmokers still subjected to secondhand smoke


This study surprised me a bit, only because I bet it’s been two or three years since I’ve last had to breath someone else’s cigarette smoke.

The Centers for Disease Research released a report this week that one in four nonsmokers continues to be exposed to secondhand cigarette smoke.

Good news, bad news: While that number is about half the percentage is 1999, 7 out of 10 African-American children are “regularly exposed” to  smokers’ secondhand smoke. And two out of five children under the age of 11 continue to be exposed to adults’ cigarette smoke.

From the NBC News articles (NBC is great for stories on tobacco control, BTW):

“Although we’ve made significant progress in reducing smoking rates … some populations are subjected to the deadly impact of tobacco more than others,” said Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “… Secondhand smoke disproportionately affects African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans, who are more likely to work in jobs that have the least amount of protection from smoking — such as service, hospitality and manufacturing industries.”


Libertarian stooge John Stossel: No data showing that secondhand smoke kills

Ladies — I’m a Libertarian … I’m smarter than you. Now make me a sandwich!


I can’t believe in this day and age, people are still stupid enough to try to argue this point, but then again, John Stossel is an avowed Libertarian and he does work for Fox News, so wonders never cease.

A decade ago, I butted heads on the old Topix forums with people who claimed secondhand smoke was harmless and the anti-tobacco Nazis were exaggerating the dangers from it. Dave Hitt and the Smoker’s Club used to be really hung up on the secondhand smoke is harmless argument (haven’t checked out either Website in several years, they probably still do).

Remember, decades ago, the tobacco industry argued, with some success that there was no proof that cigarettes caused lung cancer. My own parents argued that lung cancer was caused by air pollution; my mom continued to argue this even after her four-pack-a-day husband died of lung cancer at 49. They totally bought into the industry propaganda.

But, the narrative completely changed with the U.S. Surgeon General’s report on secondhand smoke that came out in 2006 detailed unequivocally, with considerable  backing from the science community, that yes, secondhand smoke is bad for you and that yes, people have actually gotten sick and died from longterm exposure to it. This was followed up with a second U.S. Surgeon General’s report in 2014 with even further details, again with considerable backing from the science community, that secondhand smoke is bad for you and that people have died from breathing it constantly.

In addition, the World Health Association, the American Cancer Society, the International Center for Research on Cancer and National Academy of Sciences all also agree — secondhand smoke kills.

john stossel

OK, that big run-up brings me to Libertarian stooge idiot John Stossel, who recently claimed, and I quote: “There is no good data showing secondhand smoke kills people.”

You mean there are still clowns trying to claim this? The Tampa Bay Times Pundit Watch, in doing a study on Fox News lies, found that 61 percent of the time, Fox News employees (not guests, employees) are making false statements or outright lying. Stossel’s whopper about secondhand smoke made the list as plain old “false.”

fox part 2

Good, thanks guys for catching it and calling out Stossel.

The Pundit Watch story does a pretty good job of explaining how the data is determined to calculate deaths from secondhand smoke. It’s just idiotic to claim there is no “good data,” but then again, science is hard for people whose worldview revolves around the  fairy tales of Ayn Rand.

From the Pundit Watch story:

It’s a complicated statistical analysis, one with which Stossel obviously finds fault. But it’s not unusual. The same method is used to attribute the number of deaths from obesity through diabetes, for example, Samet said.

“This is the basic way to use to understand how the disease is exposed to this risk,” Samet said. “We understand that there are uncertainties that go with this, but this is a very basic tool. … The approach here is embedded in science and policy and understanding how much a disease is caused by something.”

Now, part of me doesn’t care what idiotic things global-warming denialist Stossel says (Offhand — Earth to John Stossel, the porn stache hasn’t been a “look” since 1978). One thing I learned about Libertarians, don’t waste your time arguing with them. The U.S. Surgeon General, the World Health Organization, the American Cancer Society, the Academy of Sciences can all agree on a point … “Nope, I’m a Libertarian, I’m smarter than thou. You’re all wrong.” Never met a Libertarian yet who wasn’t convinced he was right about everything and had all the answers.

I mean there’s a reason that Stossel is on Fox, where once-legitimate journalists go to watch their integrity and careers wither and die (Brit Hume, Geraldo Rivera — yeah, Geraldo was considered a legitimate journalist at one time). I mean the guy has claimed that the U.S. government has helped Native Americans more than anyone, and he’s been a sexist, misogynist male chauvinist pig on not one, not two, but three separate occasions. So, I can’t take his ignorant crap about secondhand smoke terribly seriously based on his track record.


What bothers me is people who watch Fox believe whatever swill Fox pundits put out there. There’s a reason why they’re watching Fox in the first place. They only want to hear things that fit their worldview, which is immigrants are taking over, blacks are all thugs, Obama is a communist Muslim tyrant and that women are begging to be raped. So, when Libertarian moron John Stossel makes up crap on Fox and Friends, Fox viewers buy it hook, line and sinker — like my parents bought the propaganda by the tobacco industry 40 years ago hook, line and sinker.

Study: Large amount of secondhand smoke causes miscarriages, stillbirths in pregnant women

pregnant woman

A really eye-opening study done in Buffalo shows that pregnant women who inhale a lot of secondhand smoke have a higher incidence of stillbirths, ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages than women who do not.

It’s long been known that smoking is bad for pregnant women and their babies, but this is the first study I’ve seen showing how secondhand smoke is damaging to pregnant women and their babies. Really powerful study.

This story will sure to make the smokers’ rights’ crowd go nuts. I haven’t tangled with that crowd in a long time, but one of their loudest arguments — in complete defiance of absolute reams of studies stating otherwise — is that secondhand smoke is essentially harmless and all the studies stating otherwise were just “junk science.” A lot of people actually listened to these people 10-15 years ago, but they don’t have much of an audience anymore.

These people are just like global warming denialists and people who denied for decades that smoking causes lung cancer.  The study compared populations of women who were exposed to secondhand smoke before and during their pregnancies to women who were never exposed to secondhand smoke.

According to the conclusions:

For nonsmoking women exposed to the highest levels of secondhand smoke, the study reported a 17 percent higher risk of miscarriage, a 55 percent higher risk for stillbirth and a 61 percent higher risk of ectopic pregnancy, a complication when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus.

Those risks approached the risks seen among women who smoked more than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime, the researchers said.

The highest level of lifetime secondhand smoke exposure was defined by childhood exposure for longer than 10 years, adult home exposure for more than 20 years and adult work exposure for more than 10 years.

Some of those numbers are pretty startling — a 55 percent increase in stillbirths. Christ, if you gotta smoke, go ahead and smoke, just don’t smoke around kids … or pregnant women. Please, just don’t.

“The significance of the study is that it shows that secondhand smoke is more harmful than previously thought, not just during pregnancy but over a woman’s lifetime,” said Vince Willmore, vice president for communications at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in Washington, D.C.

“Hopefully, information like this will encourage people who smoke to be more sensitive about smoking in the house,” said Gary Giovino, chairman of the University at Buffalo’s Department of Community Health and Health Behavior.


Kids’ ear infections drop dramatically — partly because of drop in smoking

Fascinating story I read yesterday.

Health officials report that over the last 15 years, ear infections among children have dropped a whopping 30 percent. Wow!

One of the reasons ear infections have dropped so much is believed to be a concurrent drop in smoking (other factors are mentioned, but I believe the drop in smoking is a big one.). Not only are fewer people smoking, but more people who do smoke have bought a clue about not smoking around their kids.

I had constant ear infections as a kid, and still have problems with my ears today. I had my tonsils taken out, adenoids removed, tubes put in my ears. Didn’t do any good. Because back then, people didn’t make the connection between secondhand smoke and ear infections in kids. (Though I still shake my head that my parents could never figure out that their six packs a day were contributing to my chronic bronchitis.)

It’s pretty much taken as fact now, except by the Forces.org weasels, that secondhand smoke is a huge contributor to kids’ ear infections. This article explains the mechanism pretty well. Kids get ear infections often times after colds and flus, because the lining in ear tissue would become inflamed. Inflamed tissue then would become more easily infected.

Well, cigarette smoke causes the same kind of tissue inflammation in kids’ ears as colds and flus, making kids more vulnerable to infections.

According to the CDC, about 88 percent of nonsmokers (including children) were being exposed to other people’s cigarette smoke in 1990. That figure dropped to 40 percent in 2007.