Secondhand Smoke Kills 600,000 People Annually
No one had dared to look at the effects of secondhand smoke on a global level but recently the World Health Organization (WHO) researched 192 countries to discover the gruesome details that over 600,000 people worldwide die from secondhand smoke.
More than 165,000 children under 5 die from secondhand smoke. The Scientists discovered that of these tragic and avoidable deaths, 40 percent were children and more than 30 percent of non-smoking men and women regularly breathe in secondhand smoke.
Scientists then estimated that passive smoking causes about 379,000 deaths from heart disease, 165,000 deaths from lower respiratory disease, 36,900 deaths from asthma and 21,400 deaths from lung cancer a year.
"This helps us understand the real toll of tobacco," said leader of the study Armando Peruga, a program manager at the World Health Organization's Tobacco-Free Initiative.
He said the approximately 603,000 deaths from secondhand smoking should be added to the 5.1 million deaths that smoking itself causes every year. "These (statistics) are sad data," the American Cancer Society's Tom Glynn says. Smoking is the world's leading cause of preventable death, according to the WHO.
Glynn also stated that there are "glimmers of hope" in the report. Smoking bans protect only 7% of the world's population, suggesting lawmakers could save many lives by passing smoking bans. he bans can have dramatic benefits, the report says. Heart attack rates drop 10% to 20% in the first year after the bans are enacted.
"I don't think it is likely we will see strong regulations reaching into homes," said Heather Wipfli of the Institute for Global Health at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She believes that public smoking bans and education might persuade people to quit smoking at home.
Secondhand smoke is deadly and has more than 4,000 chemicals and at least 250 are known to be harmful and more than 50 of the toxic chemicals in secondhand tobacco smoke cause cancer. There is absolutely no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.
Sadly even with this information, smoking will be a worldwide concern as over a half a million people will die because of others who make the choice to smoke.