If you have questions about how
secondhand smoke can affect you and your family, please email me. I am
happy to help answer your questions.
Send questions by email to
by U.S. mail to: SmokingHurts.com, 12274 Bandera Rd., Ste. 210, Helotes,
November 3, 2009
I have a
coworker that smokes yet she never smokes directly in front of me.
She goes outside on her smoke breaks; however the other day I
realized she is not too far outside from our door entrance when she
is smoking. So, I'm unsure whether or not the smoke is getting
inside our office or not? I have been very ill for the past
few months now with chronic coughing and major asthma attacks.
Doctor diagnosed me with severe sinus and severe asthma and gave me
maintenance inhaler, attack inhaler, Prednisone pills (for one
week), and prescribed cough syrup to help me sleep at night.
Please let me know all of your thoughts on all of this? Do you
think I'm ill due to coworker smoking (even though she is outside),
but then I wonder if smoke on her alone bothers me possibly? I
don't have a sense of smell, so it's difficult for me to tell for
And what do you suggest as remedies for my
problem, if I may ask that as well?
Thank you! 'Chelle
‘Chelle: Because you lack a sense of
smell you will have to rely on what I will tell you. It could be
either or both of the problems you described. It is most likely from
the residual smoke chemicals on her clothes, hair and the breathe
she exhales (now termed third-hand smoke), but can also be from
smoke coming back inside the building around windows or doors, or
through ventilation systems.
I have the same problems you are
describing and find just walking near or down an aisle at the
grocery store where someone who smokes is or has just passed will
cause an asthma attack. The chemical compositions in the smoke gas
they carry with them is deadly and must be avoided by you at all
You are going to
find this not only difficult, but probably impossible to explain to
your employer because most people will not have such a strong
reaction. This is why I have a list of businesses (link on left
that no longer allow employees to smoke. It is because my problem is
the same as yours that I had to find a way to work from home. There
are far too few companies that understand this and truly create a
100% smoke-free environment for their employees.
If you cannot work far enough away from
smoking employees and the outdoor smoking area you will have to find
other employment, looking for a safer environment, or find a way to
work from home. Your life and health depend on this. Because of
exposure to residual smoke I have been confined to bed for sometimes
months at a time with life-threatening bronchitis. Continued
exposure will further exacerbate your lung disease and it will get
I am so sorry you have developed this
problem and hope you will find a way to survive it in the workplace.
Please tell your friends and family about my web site
It supports this site for education.
November 30, 2007
I was pleased to find the website and your insight on matters of second
hand smoke. As a young woman who just turned 21 I have some concerns. I
was struggling with college and tuition bills and managed to get a job
for an insurance agent at above minimum wage which is a feat for where I
live. My two employers were heavy chain smokers and already cancer
survivors from it but refused not to smoke around me. I have always had
big dreams about becoming a singer and was at the job to save money to
leave for a town with opportunity. I knew I shouldn't work in the
environment and kept the door open as much as possible to try to inhale
as little of the smoke as possible. After 8 months I finally left
because I couldn't handle it. I've done the math of working 8 hour days
for 8 months five days a week around second hand smoke and its not
pretty. I'm sulking as I write this and kicking myself. My throat has
been giving me lots of problems and I saw an ENT about a month ago who
said the swollen lumps on my neck were saliva glands from allergies. The
swelling hasn't subsided and I'm seeing another ENT in about a week for
a second opinion. I haven't noticed too much of a change in my singing
voice expect for my lung capacity (probably from the smoke and I need to
exercise to rebuild that) and it hurts to sing because of the swelling
on the side of my neck. It causes a lot of pressure. I haven't sang in
about 2 months like I used to to avoid permanent damage. Do you think
that the smoke is what caused this persistent swelling? Is it possible
to get cancer from the 8 months? Did you notice a change in your
speaking voice? I just need some input. I'm freaking out.
I wish we all (including me) had learned to say no to working in
secondhand smoke in the first place. We are just now getting to the
point where we understand the dangers, and the government refuses to
provide the education needed to make the right choices before it is too
late. Here is a great news piece on CNN about the dangers of secondhand
this link was posted 11/30/07 and may not be available at a later date.)
I do believe the damage to your throat
is from the heavy doses of smoke you were forced to inhale. Although it
is certainly possible to get cancer from the smoke after eight months of
breathing it, it is more likely you will not. It would depend on your
genetic makeup and whether your body is more or less prone to cancer. I
am glad you are going to another ENT for a second opinion since the
swelling is not subsiding. Hopefully they can find a solution, and get
the problem resolved.
My voice has been changed, but I
believe more due to the medications (inhalers) I have been forced to use
daily to continue breathing. I can no longer hold a tune as the alto I
used to be (some days are better than others).
f for some reason you should end up
with a serious problem as a result of the secondhand smoke, please let
me know. I know an attorney that might be interested in talking with
November 25, 2007
I just returned this evening from visiting
someone who is a smoker (inside the house). I was in the room
approximately two hours while the smoking continued. This is my
husband's sister's house so I was not at liberty to tell them to go
outside and smoke. My husband is an ex-smoker so of course he was
enjoying the smoke and the horrific smell. My question is this, have I
suffered any damage to my lungs just for this short period of time (two
hours) while breathing second hand smoke? At the moment, my lungs fill
very "tight" and " heavy". Should I be concerned and will this go away?
I have decided that I cannot visit this person again. I had no idea that
she would smoke in front everybody. Thanks for your response.
Long term damage is
not likely for such a short time, but it has been proven that 30 minutes
of secondhand smoke can cause a heart attack. It restricts the arteries.
I have copied below an article on a study that was just released. It has
been found that when smoke-free workplace laws go into effect the heart
attack rates drop dramatically, including for non-smokers. So, the
tightness and heaviness in your chest is a concern, and this experience
should not be repeated. It can also be an asthmatic reaction. If it does
not go away you should see a doctor. As long as you do not go where
people are smoking in the future you should be fine.
The big problem is
finding nice ways to explain to those who don't understand. I have found
for the heavy smokers, their families and friends, they rarely
truly understand. You just have to remember they are in the great
minority, your health is priority and be as nice as you can. Make a rule
that you do not go where smoking is permitted and ask everyone before
you go to their home or business, "Do you allow smoking?" and if they
say yes, just politely explain you will not be able to go there. I don't
know how your husband will react if you say you will not go to his
sister's house in the future if she is going to allow smoking. This
could actually require counseling.
I hope this helps.
SMOKEFREE WORKPLACE LAW
REDUCES HEART ATTACKS 59% AMONG NONSMOKERS, NEW RESEARCH SHOWS
BERKELEY, CA (November 19, 2007) – A new study released by Indiana
University researchers shows that comprehensive smokefree workplace laws
result in immediate and significant improvements in heart health,
particularly in nonsmokers. The study found a 59% net decrease in
hospital admissions for heart attacks, also known as acute myocardial
infarctions (AMIs), in nonsmokers with no prior cardiac history in
Monroe County, Indiana versus the control county during the study period
which tracked 22 months prior to and following the implementation of a
comprehensive smokefree workplace law.
According to Cynthia Hallett, Executive Director of Americans for
Nonsmokers’ Rights, “The Monroe County, Indiana study proves that 100%
smokefree workplace laws improve the heart health of workers and
residents, particularly nonsmokers. This adds to the ever-growing
body of literature showing that smokefree workplace laws save lives, in
the short term and the long term.”
The study, “Reduced Admission for Acute Myocardial Infarction Associated
with a Public Smoking Ban: Matched Controlled Study,” conducted by Dong-Chul
Seo, Ph.D. and Mohammad Torabi, Ph.D. will be published in the coming
month’s Journal of Drug Education. It measured whether or not
there was a change in admissions for acute myocardial infarctions in
patients with no history of previous cardiac events or key risk factors
for cardiac events [hypertension and/or high cholesterol] during the
study period – the 22 months prior to and 22 months since the
implementation of a comprehensive smokefree law that covers workplaces,
restaurants, bars and clubs in Monroe County, Indiana vs. the control
county, Delaware County, Indiana, which had no smokefree law during the
The Monroe County study is groundbreaking because it is the first to
examine the impact of a smokefree workplace law on the heart health of
nonsmokers, rather than the general population.
“This study, which goes deeper than earlier heart studies in Helena, MT
and elsewhere, validates that there are important and immediate health
benefits to smokefree workplace policies, particularly in preventing
heart disease in nonsmokers,” Hallett said. “The bottom line is
simple: secondhand smoke kills. Everyone deserves to breathe
smokefree air in enclosed workplaces and public places.”
The new study is further evidence that strong 100% smokefree ordinances
covering all workplaces reduce exposure to known carcinogens and
immediately improve short term health outcomes. This reaffirms the
conclusions of the landmark 2006 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report, The
Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Secondhand Smoke Exposure,
which states that secondhand smoke exposure may have immediate effects
on the cardiovascular systems of nonsmokers and also validates a 2004
warning issued by the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention,
cautioning that individuals at increased risk of coronary heart disease
or with known coronary artery disease should avoid all indoor
environments that permit smoking .
Previous studies in Helena, Montana and Pueblo, Colorado showed a 40%
and a 27% overall drop in acute myocardial infarctions following the
implementation of comprehensive smokefree workplace laws in those
cities. A 2006 study of the effect of a smokefree law in Piedmont,
Italy similarly found an overall reduction in heart attacks following
implementation of a smokefree law in that region of Italy.
“Smokefree indoor air is a mainstream idea whose time has come,” said
Hallett. “As the public has learned more about the health dangers
associated with secondhand smoke, public support for smokefree polices
has taken off across the country. It’s no longer a question of who
will be next to go smokefree, but who will be last.”
More than 655 U.S. local communities and 25 states have enacted local
laws providing for smokefree air in all enclosed workplaces, including
restaurants and bars, according to the ANR Foundation Local Ordinance
Database (see smokefree map at http://www.no-smoke.org/pdf/100Map.pdf).
Nearly 60% of the US population is protected by a smokefree law, but
gaps remain in some regions and job sectors.
Cities and states without a strong smokefree law in all workplaces
should take heed and pursue a smokefree law before more workers and
residents are unnecessarily placed at risk for disease and possibly
death as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke.
Americans for Nonsmokers’
Rights is a national, member-based, not-for-profit organization based in
Berkeley, CA that is dedicated to helping nonsmokers breathe smokefree
air in enclosed public places and workplaces.
For more information:
Indiana University Press Release: http://newsinfo.iu.edu/news/page/print/5610.html
Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR):
Americans for Nonsmokers Rights/ ANR Foundation
2530 San Pablo Ave., Ste. J
Berkeley, CA 94702
(510) 841-3032 phone
(510) 841-3071 fax
To search the localets-talk archives, go to:
I live in a small Georgia town and was
wondering if it is a law for all restaurants to be smoke free? I
ate at one today - I mean a small one, and the smell alone was horrific.
I had my grandsons (both preemies with lung problems) with me. At first
I thought it was just the building and old smells until I saw one of the
ladies there light up. Can you tell me what the law is and why this
person can do that when all others in town cannot?
of the law In Georgia is they can only allow smoking if no one under 18
is allowed in that business. I believe they were in violation and need
to be reported to the health department or police department. Until the
Georgia laws are stronger you should ask before entering a restaurant if
they are "completely" smoke-free. Be careful how you ask that question
as some think if they have a non-smoking section they are smoke-free,
which, as you know, is not the case.
Yesterday, I was in a rehearsal for three
hours in a medium size closed window room, with about 10 people smoking
cigarettes simultaneously, the entire time. Can this one rehearsal
affect or damage my singing or vocal health in any way? (I'm an opera
For most of us I
would normally say it was probably not enough to cause noticeable
permanent damage unless an illness resulting from the smoke, or
medications taken for such an illness, affects the vocal cords.
But, because you have special training, and even a minor injury could be
a problem, I would say it might be possible. If this is happening on
even an occasional basis it can definitely cause permanent harm. If you
believe there has been damage you need to find a throat specialist - one
that understands the dangers of secondhand smoke - and make an
appointment. Never let any doctor intimidate you into believing your
concerns are not valid. Many doctors are still ignorant about tobacco
smoke and its dangers. I know singers who have permanent damage from
ongoing secondhand smoke exposure and can no longer sing at all.
It is very hard to be
the one who says I will not risk my health or my voice because people do
not wish to be inconvenienced and go outside to smoke. It has been a
learning experience for all of us. We have to learn to be strong and
take the humiliation when they make fun of us until they get it.
I do want to mention
that being in a room full of people who come back inside immediately
after smoking outside can also do harm on a regular basis as well. The
chemicals "outgas" and can affect the throat, and cause asthma attacks
or other health problems.