Unfortunate Passive Smoker - How Cigarettes Harm Nonsmokers

Dangers of Cigarette Smoke on Passive Smokers - DoctorOnCall

If you look at your surroundings when you are in public, you will see at least one smoker. Sometimes even if the particular area has a “no smoking” sign, there are stubborn people who still smoke! Smoking has become a norm and we have to change that because it doesn’t only harm the smoker himself, but also the environment and innocent people around him/her. 

Types of Smokers

Smokers are divided into three types, namely:

1. Active Smoker

  • Active smokers are those who smoke at least a cigarette a day.

  • A cigarette will produce two types of smoke, which are:

a. Mainstream smoke

- Smoke inhaled and released by smokers

b. Sidestream smoke

- Smoke coming out of cigarette butts.

2. Passive Smoker

  • Passive smokers are those who inhale second-hand smoke

  • Second-hand smoke is a combination of mainstream smoke and sidestream smoke

3. Third Smoker

  • Third smokers are those who inhale or touch the residual smoke (third-hand smoke)

  • Third-hand smoke refers to waste gas and chemicals from mainstream smoke and sidestream smoke that fall onto surfaces such as clothes and furniture.

Passive Smoker

Who is a passive smoker? Passive smokers are those who do not smoke but are exposed to smoke from cigarette butts and cigarette smoke exhaled by the smokers.

Cigarettes have a layer to filter out chemical particles that can harm the smoker, but what about other people who inhale the smoke? Yes, the innocent ones who will be exposed to these toxins. This is a passive smoker.  

What Are The Chemicals In Cigarette Smoke?

The following is a list of chemicals in cigarette smoke. See how badly it can affect our health.

1 . Tar

  • Absorbs into the lungs and promotes cancer cell development.

  • Sticks to the walls of the lungs and reduce oxygen-carbon dioxide gas exchange.

2. Benzene & Formaldehyde

  • Associated with various cancers such as leukemia and kidney tumour.

3. Nicotine

  • Recent studies show that nicotine can cause cancer via:

a. Initiation of Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT). This process is one of the important steps for cancer cell growth.

b. Our body has an agent that inhibits the growth of tumors called CHK2. Nicotine reduces the number of these agents and promotes cancer growth.

c . Nicotine also accelerates the proliferation of abnormal cells in the body. This is evidenced by studies recorded in breast cancer, colon cancer, and lung cancer

In addition to the above ingredients, there are over 7000 other chemicals recorded in the medical report and all were revealed to have harmful effects.

Effects of Cigarettes on Passive Smokers

Let's see how cigarettes harm the innocent lives of passive smokers.

1. Effects of cigarette smoke on adults

  • Has a smoker-like effect on passive smokers i.e. passive smokers have high risk of the following illness:

a. Cardiovascular Disease

b. Heart Disease

c. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

d. Cancer, especially lung cancer.

  • According to studies, a person who lives with a smoker is more likely to get lung cancer than one who does not.

  • 3000 deaths from total cases of lung cancer recorded in the United States each year are from passive smokers.


2. Effects of cigarette smoke on children

    • Studies show that children living in a home with a smoker are exposed to many health problems

a. Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (URTI).

- Their lungs do not function properly compared to children who have never smelt cigarette smoke. This results in the child getting lung infections more often.

- Some of the children who have been exposed to passive smoke also have a heightened risk of getting asthma.

b. Infections of the ear

- More ear infections amongst children who are passive smokers.

c. Learning problems and growth delays.

3. Effects of cigarette smoke on infants

Babies who are frequently exposed to cigarette smoke are at risk of sudden death. This condition is also called Cot Death.

a. Cot Death, also known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) happens when a healthy baby dies for no reason.

b. Autopsy performed on a baby with SIDS who lives with smokers has shown high levels of nicotine in their lungs.

 c. They also have high levels of cotinine which is a marker of tobacco exposure.

4. Effects of cigarette smoke on pregnant mothers

Effects of cigarette smoke on mothers:

a. Risk of miscarriage

b. Ectopic Pregnancy

c. High blood pressure (Pregnancy Induced Hypertension)

Effects of cigarette smoke on unborn baby:

a. Low Birth Weight (LBW)

b. Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR)

c. Birth Defects

d. Premature birth

Third Smoker

In short, third-party smokers are those who inhale or touch the remains of cigarette smoke attached to clothes, beds, furniture or even human skin. This cigarette smoke is called "third-hand smoke".

According to research conducted by the WHO (World Health Organization), this smoke residue can stay on a surface for years. The only way to get rid of this smoke residue is to wash and clean the surfaces exposed to cigarette smoke regularly.

The term ‘third smoker’ is fairly new. The effects of smoking on the third smoker are still being investigated. However, we know it will be nothing good.


Those who smoke should be aware that the dangers of smoking are not exclusive to themselves but hurt innocent lives as well. Hopefully, this article can increase awareness to motivate readers to stay away from cigarettes. Remember, while the effects of smoking are sometimes invisible, particles may be stuck on the sofa, chairs, beds, and walls of your home. So, quit smoking because that is the best way to live a healthy and prosperous life. Consult a doctor to learn the best ways to quit smoking.

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