You probably already know that if you have asthma, you shouldn’t smoke. But what about the effects of passive smoking?
- Cigarette smoke contains more than 4000 chemicals, including carbon monoxide, ammonia and arsenic, and includes carcinogens (cancer-causing chemicals).
- If you have asthma, exposure to other people’s tobacco smoke — environmental tobacco smoke — can trigger an asthma attack, and it can increase the number of attacks you might have.
- If people smoke around you it can increase your lungs’ sensitivity to other asthma triggers, such as pollen or dust mites.
- Passive smoking might reduce your lung function if you have asthma.
- Exposure to other people’s smoke might increase your need for asthma medications.
- Not only is passive smoking associated with asthma, but it has also been linked to lung cancer, heart conditions and lower respiratory illnesses.
How it affects your children
- If you smoke during pregnancy, you increase your baby’s chances of having lung problems such as asthma.
- Passive smoking is a significant factor in the development of childhood asthma. Exposure to passive smoking may trigger asthma in children who are already genetically predisposed to the condition.
- Your children are more likely to suffer from ear infections, serious chest infections, wheezing and coughing if you are a smoker.
- Children with asthma who are exposed to environmental tobacco smoke take longer to recover from asthma symptoms than those not exposed.
What you can do
- Don’t smoke.
- Minimise your exposure to tobacco smoke by putting ‘no smoking’ signs up in your home and work environments to encourage family, friends and colleagues to be smoke-free around you.
- Request non-smoking areas when dining out or travelling to help reduce your exposure.
- If you are unable to avoid a smoky area, take your reliever medication before you are exposed.
- Keep your day-to-day asthma under control. Well-controlled asthma means you are better equipped to deal effectively with exposure to passive smoking.