Essay on The Debate Concerning Secondhand Smoke

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We all know that smoking poses a significant risk to our health. We can make an educated decision about whether or not to smoke, and if we do decide to smoke, we should be willing to accept any negative effects such as lung cancer and heart disease later in our lives. But what about exposure to secondhand smoke? At this point, we don’t always have a choice in exposure to the smoke of others. The Office of the Surgeon General (OGS) has documented a high level of exposure to secondhand smoke among nonsmoking adults and children in the United States. Blood tests of nonsmokers for the presence of cotinine, a chemical produced by nicotine, indicate that 88% of nonsmoking Americans are exposed to secondhand smoke (US, OGS, Clean). In…show more content…
The EPA determined that secondhand smoke is a Group A carcinogen, a classification of pollutants that have been proven to cause cancer. The tobacco industry responded to the report with a well-funded advertising, public relations, and legal counterattack. Since then, controversy over the topic has spread, both politically and socially. But what exactly are the risks associated with secondhand smoke, and how has the American public responded to those risks? Secondhand smoke is most harmful to young children, especially those with asthma or other respiratory diseases. The EPA notes that 43% of children in the United States under the age of 11 live in a home with at least one smoker. Children exposed to secondhand smoke tend to have more bronchitis, pneumonia, respiratory infections, fluid in the middle ear, and asthma. And if both parents smoke, or if the child is frequently exposed to smoke, the child’s chances of showing symptoms of these diseases increase (US, EPA, Indoor). Infants and toddlers up to 18 months of age suffer between 150,000 and 300,000 cases of lung infections because of secondhand smoke, according to EPA estimates. Secondhand smoke produces symptoms of asthma in an

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