Harvard Heart Letter

Heart Beat: Getting away from secondhand smoke

Heart Beat

Getting away from secondhand smoke

Technology can't help you avoid secondhand smoke. The only way you can steer clear of its harmful effects "" and there are many "" is to keep away from smokers.

So says the Surgeon General's report, "The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke." One of its major conclusions is that secondhand smoke (also called environmental tobacco smoke) has immediately harmful effects on the heart and blood vessels. The others include these:

  • Secondhand smoke causes disease and premature deaths in children and adults who don't smoke. It has been implicated in sudden infant death syndrome, respiratory infections, ear infections, asthma, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases.

  • Even brief exposures can be hazardous to the lungs and circulatory system.

  • Air cleaners and other technologies to filter out smoke or clean the air can't eliminate the hazards of secondhand smoke.

"There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke," Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona said in a press briefing. The best way to protect nonsmokers, he said, is to prevent smoking indoors.

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