Carolyn's Daily Posts: 2011

May 31, 2011

Second- and Third-Hand Smoke




     Eight year old Rosemary entered my house on one of her many visits. This time she would stay for several days while her mother was in the hospital for diabetic treatment.

     Rosemary knew the routine: as soon as her mother left, she unpacked all her clothes, gathered a clean robe I provided, and took a shower. The clothes she unpacked and the ones she took off her back were immediately thrown into the washing machine. Sometimes they were run through the wash cycle twice.

     Each time we did this, Rosemary looked mortified. But she also expressed gratitude when she didn’t have to leave for school the following morning accompanied by the usual stench of tobacco and animal feces.

     I felt bad caring for her this way, and we had many talks about it. She didn’t want to present herself to others, or herself, in this way. She knew that she stank. She understood, and knew that the routine made her more socially acceptable at school. After all, her odor could unpleasantly fill a room immediately, making her, in effect, a social outcast.

    Such was one effect of the second-hand smoke (and detrimental environment) that Rosemary was exposed to.


     I, too, was exposed to second-hand smoke in my household. I recall being in cars and stuck breathing the putrid, rancid, air I couldn’t escape. Back in those olden days, however, it was the norm. Everybody smoked. I even remember going to the store to purchase the cigarettes my mother smoked. I was only nine years old.


     Today the dangers of secondhand smoke are well-known. Now there is a new term, thirdhand smoke: The term “thirdhand smoke” was coined in 2009 in a study in the journal of Pediatrics, which found that 65 percent of nonsmokers thought that the residue of tobacco smoke found on furniture and drapes, in rugs and dust, and on the skin and clothing, can harm children and infants. Only 43 percent of smokers believed that it posed a health risk…the Berkeley lab researchers found that when nitrous acid in the air reacts with nicotine, tobacco-specific nitrosamines, or TSNAs, are created…*

     …the human health effects of thirdhand smoke haven’t been well-studied, and further work is needed to understand the extent of the threat they pose…*

     It wasn’t pleasant for Rosemary to stink from cigarette smoke. As a child and young person, I myself didn’t enjoy being cooped up in the house or the car, breathing smoke-filled air.    

     We can’t control many things in life, but we can control whether or not we pick up a cigarette and smoke. We can choose not to expose ourselves, or our children, to the effects of second- and thirdhand smoke.


*Study: Smoking leaves carcinogenic residue, Greensburg Tribune-Review, February 9, 2010





Three Women Wildly Battle With UNO Cards

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Child Abuse:


1 Comment »

  1. Iinadvertently posted this piece on World Tobacco Day, May 31. The morning paperhad a picture of an “oversized high-heeled shoe” made from 15,000 cigarettes. It was hung inside a Mumbai, India, shopping mall by anti-tobacco campaigners. “India is he world’s second-largest producer and consumer of tobacco next to China,” according to the American Cancer Society and the World Lung Foundation, with about 20% of their 241 million population using tobacco in some form. —Greensburg Tribune-Review, May 31, A3

    Comment by carolyncholland — May 31, 2011 @ 4:43 pm | Reply

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