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May 24, 2017

Myths on second-hand smoke and the benefits of quitting

When you smoke, do you think you’re doing all the right things to avoid harming your family with second-hand smoke? Are you thinking of quitting, but nothing has managed to convince you to kick the habit yet? If this sounds like you, keep reading! What you’ll learn may surprise you!

Debunking myths on second-hand smoke

Everyone knows that second-hand smoke is just as harmful to non-smokers as it is to smokers. That’s why many smokers try to decrease their loved ones’ exposure to second-hand smoke in a variety of ways, such as opening a window or turning on a fan. But what if all these efforts – while well-intentioned – were all in vain? What if the only way to actually protect your family from second-hand smoke was to take it outside?

To ask the question is to answer it. Studies conducted by Health Canada (2008) and others indicate that no one action can eliminate the harmful effects of second-hand smoke. Here are a few stubborn myths about second-hand smoke.

MYTH #1: Smoking in another room is not harmful to non-smokers.

FACT: Even if smoking takes place behind a closed door, second-hand smoke can drift to the rest of the house through cracks under doors, openings for plumbing and electrical cables and heating and air-conditioning ducts.

Did you know?
Since November 2016, smoking (and vaping) is prohibited within 9 meters of all open doors and windows that open.  

MYTH #2: Opening a window or turning on an exhaust hood or fan eliminates most of the second-hand smoke from your house or car.

FACT: Studies have shown that no level of ventilation is powerful enough to get rid of second-hand smoke. In 2000, the World Health Organization stated that good ventilation may help reduce the irritating effect of smoke, but that it cannot eliminate all the toxic agents released into the air from smoking.

Did you know?
Since 2016 in Quebec, it is prohibited to smoke or vape in a car where there are children under the age of 16. 

MYTH #3: Using an air purifier or air filter will protect my family from second-hand smoke.

FACT: These devices do not decrease the detrimental effect of smoking; they only mask or remove the smell of smoke.

Composed of both gases and extra-fine particles, second-hand smoke cannot be completely filtered from the air by most air filters. Air filters are designed to reduce the number of smoke particles from the air, but they do not eliminate the gases. As a result, many cancer-causing agents remain in the air for non-smokers to breathe in.

MYTH #4: Unborn babies are protected from second-hand smoke while in the womb.

FACT: The chemicals inhaled by a pregnant woman who smokes or who is exposed to second-hand smoke can affect the development of the baby’s organs (heart, lungs, digestive and nervous systems) and compromise his or her growth (low birth weight).

MYTH #5: Children are not more vulnerable to second-hand smoke than adults.

FACT: Second-hand smoke is detrimental to everyone’s health, but it is especially harmful to young children.

Because they breathe faster, children inhale more air than adults relative to their body weight. This means they absorb more of the chemicals found in second-hand smoke, placing them at a greater risk for respiratory problems, learning difficulties, ear infections and colds.

Did you know?
Since May 2016, it is prohibited to smoke or vape in outdoor playgrounds for children, playing fields and parks.

MYTH #6: Smoking in your home or car when no one is around is not harmful to anyone’s health.

FACT: Second-hand smoke stays in the air long after a cigarette has been extinguished and can still be harmful to non-smokers.

The benefits of quitting

Another good thing to keep in mind is that kicking the habit has various health benefits, many of which can be felt almost immediately. Let’s take a closer look at these now.

  • After only 20 minutes, blood pressure drops and returns to normal. Heart rate slows down and returns to a normal level.
  • After 8 hours, blood oxygen level returns to normal.
  • After 1 day, carbon monoxide is eliminated from the body.
  • After 2 days, nicotine is purged from the smoker’s system. Nerve endings begin to regenerate. Sense of smell and taste improve.
  • After 3 days, bronchial tubes relax, making breathing easier. Lung capacity and energy level increase.
  • After 2 weeks (up to 3 months), blood circulation and lung function improve.
  • After 1 year, the risk of developing heart disease is cut by half.
  • After 5 years, the risk of developing oral cancer, throat cancer or esophageal cancer is cut by half.
  • After 10 years, the risk of dying from lung cancer is equal to that of a non-smoker.
  • After 15 years, the risk of coronary heart disease is equal to that of a non-smoker.

Pharmacy services

Has this article moved you to act? If so, remember that there are many pharmacological aids to help you quit smoking. Several reliable studies have proven that they can double your chances of succeeding. 

Ask your family pharmacists for advice. They can prescribe* can prescribe medications for certain minor health problems, including NRTs for smoking cessation, when no diagnosis is needed.  

A consultation will be required to make sure you meet the prescribing criteria. To avail yourself of this service, you may need to book an appointment with your pharmacist. Ask a member of the pharmacy team for more details. Some Uniprix-affiliated pharmacies also offer an online appointment booking service. To locate the store nearest you providing this service, click here

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