From 1984-1994 I was the administrative assistant/office manager/Jill-of-all-trades for a small elementary school in south Texas. Every morning the children would come in and give me their lunch money, library books, and medications. For a couple of years, a little girl would come in reeking of cigarette smoke, especially on cold days when the car windows stayed closed, and hand me her asthma inhaler. It made me furious at the parents. Her mother was nice enough, but totally oblivious to the harm caused by her smoking. Several times she had the audacity to complain about her children (the little girl was the oldest of three)being sick and coughing all the time. Man, I wish I had had the guts to speak out. I wish I could have walked outside to her car and persuaded her to give up smoking or least think about it.
Secondhand smoke is nothing less than passive abuse. It causes low birth weight and respiratory problems, when the mother smokes or is exposed to secondhand smoke. After birth those children are subjected to secondhand smoke in the house and car by one or both parents. They should be arrested and fined for abuse, for harming their child/children, who have no choice in the matter and will grow up thinking it’s okay to smoke.
According to the Office of the Surgeon General, secondhand smoke contains more than 250 toxic chemicals that can cause cancer of many varieties. Children (and other nonsmokers) who are exposed to secondhand smoke are inhaling many of the same cancer causing substances and toxins as the smokers. Infants and young children are especially vulnerable. This is terrifying: “Both babies whose mothers smoke while pregnant and babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke after birth are more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome than babies who are not exposed to cigarette smoke.” How does that grab you??? Secondhand smoke causes weaker lungs, acute lower respiratory infections, and ear infections in children. As they grow up, they are likely to develop heart problems, cancer, and more serious respiratory diseases.
How can people knowingly harm their children in this way? Smokers say they have rights, so put them in bubble helmets where they cannot sicken or kill the rest of us. (Nonsmoking spouses of smokers are more likely to die of cancer and heart disease than the smokers.) There is no risk-free level of exposure. “Even brief exposures can be harmful.” Parents should at the very least not smoke inside their houses or vehicles. That they do not love their children enough to give up their addiction is beyond my ken.
If you want more statistics, just search online for “secondhand smoke.”