Smoking near a child is child abuse. At least, said Adam Goldstein, a practicing physician and professor and director of the Tobacco Intervention Program at the University of North Carolina, United States.
He further stated, deliberate and recurring exposure to cigarette smoke that triggers cancer is negligence and abuse of parents against children, tantamount to leaving children in hot cars with windows closed, or driving cars with children when you under the influence of alcohol.
The effect of cigarette smoke is more dangerous to children than adults
Reported by Tempo.co, based on 2015 data by the Indonesian Agency for Health Research and Development (Balitbangkes) Ministry of Health, more than 40 million Indonesian children are passive smokers due to living with parents of smokers or often near people other adult smokers.
One cigarette contains more than 250 active carcinogenic chemicals (cancer-causing), including formaldehyde, benzene, vinyl chloride, arsenic, ammonia, and hydrogen cyanide. But did you know, cigarette smoke contains three times as much carbon monoxide, tar and nicotine, and ammonia up to 46 times more than the smoke directly inhaled by active smokers? That is, the chance of cancer for passive smokers can reach up to 50 times higher than you who smoke.
The lungs of children are smaller than the lungs of adults. Children also breathe faster than adults. Therefore, children can breathe more dangerous chemicals per their body weight than adults at the same time.
In addition, children's immune systems have not been fully formed so that they are more susceptible to respiratory inflammation, such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Babies who are often exposed to cigarette smoke over a long period of time, or whose mothers are active smokers, have a higher chance of risk of death from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) than babies who are not exposed to cigarette smoke.
Data reported by UNICEF 2012 shows that pneumonia as a result of Acute Respiratory Tract Infection (ISPA) due to inhaling secondary cigarette smoke ranks highest in Indonesian child mortality, recorded at 14% or around 21 thousand children, exceeding the rate deaths from AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
Effect of cigarette smoke on children's health
In addition to the two main problems above, secondary cigarette smoke is inhaled by not only children and toddlers, but pregnant women can also cause:
- Posture and weight of a small baby at birth. Pregnant women who breathe cigarette smoke, or who smoke, are more likely to give birth to small babies. Babies born under normal are at high risk of various health issues.
- Lungs are weak. Babies who constantly breathe out cigarette smoke from birth will develop weak lungs, and can increase the risk of various types of respiratory diseases.
- Severe or acute asthma. Secondary cigarette smoke causes children with asthma to develop their disease to become more frequent and severe relapses.
- Respiratory problems Children living under the same roof with parents of smokers are more prone to coughing, phlegm coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath compared to other children whose parents are nonsmokers.
- Ear infections.
- Cognitive damage. Exposure to secondary cigarette smoke in the long term can slow and /or damage children's learning abilities. Cigarette smoke is very toxic, even though it is inhaled in small amounts. More than 21.9 million children around the world are estimated to have a high risk of reading deficits due to cigarette smoke. Higher levels of exposure to secondhand smoke are also associated with mathematical abilities and visuospatial reasoning of children that are far below the average.
- Low IQ. Children whose mothers were active smokers (smoking 1 pack per day during pregnancy) showed IQ test results averaged 2.87 points lower than normal children with parents of non-smokers.
- Behavior disorders. Children from non-smoking mothers who are constantly exposed to secondary cigarette smoke during pregnancy and children of active smokers have a higher chance of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and order problems.
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