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Children and

Second Hand
Tyra White
Period 6
Thesis: Approximately 11% of children under the age of six

years old are exposed to second hand smoke on a regular

basis. Although the problem doesn’t seem severe, second

hand smoke can affect a child in ways that can not only

affect their lives temporarily, but can cause them to

suffer for a lifetime.

Not only are children influenced by media, but they

are also greatly affected by the actions of those around

them. Actions made by a parent, such as smoking, can do a

lot of harm psychologically and physically on a child. One

main poison that is taken in by the child is second hand

smoke. The definition of second hand smoke is

“Environmental tobacco smoke that is inhaled involuntary or

passively by someone who is not smoking” (MedicineNet Inc).

Although this may sound harmless, the inhalation of second

hand smoke can have a negative impact on the body,

especially that of a child.

Unfortunately the effects of second hand smoke on a

child are more severe than they would be for an adult.

Children are more vulnerable because they are still

physically growing, they have higher breathing rates, and

have little control over indoor environments (U.S. EPA).

These factors, set aside from the dangers of the second

hand smoke itself, put children at a higher risk of

fatality once inhaling too much second hand smoke.

Second hand smoke contains over four thousand

substances, many in which are known for causing cancer

(U.S. EPA). The deaths of non smokers from second hand

smoke are currently on the rise. Approximately three

thousand non smokers die of lung cancer yearly, due to the

effects of second hand smoke. This number includes

children. Although it isn’t likely that children develop

heart disease, it can still be produced over time, if the

child regularly inhales the toxins in second hand smoke.

There are other effects of second hand smoke that

probably aren’t considered as fatal, but are just as

serious and can cause long term damage to a child. Second

hand smoke can cause asthma in a child that hadn’t

previously displayed symptoms on the illness. Young

infants are also greatly impacted. Second hand smoke can

cause respiratory infections such as bronchitis and

pneumonia. Over exposure to second hand smoke also puts

children and infants at risk of middle ear disease (U.S.

Second hand smoke can affect a young child, but it can

also cause children to die premature deaths, and in some

cases, before they leave their mother’s womb (American Lung

Association). An expecting mother that inhales second hand

smoke regularly can kill the child before they are fully

developed. Again, babies and young children especially are

the most vulnerable, mainly because they are dependent,

under developed, and their immune systems aren’t strong

enough to battle the many toxins present in second hand


Although professionals are doing what they can in

order to find vaccines and prescription drugs to cure or

ease the health defects caused by second hand smoke, it is

the responsibility of adults to be more courteous, so maybe

that infant won’t die of pneumonia, or that child next door

won’t die of a severe asthma attack. In the end, it is left

up to parents to watch their children, and be aware of

surroundings. This also means that parent have to learn to

lead by example and not smoke in the presence of children

(American Lung Association).

An ear infection may not seem like such a “big deal”

but one must keep in mind, the effects of second hand smoke
on children can be more severe and even fatal, and can last

a lifetime.
Works Cited
Second Hand Smoke definition-Medical dictionary of popular

medical terms. 2007 MedicineNet Inc. March 18 2007.

Health Effects of Exposure to Second Hand Smoke.

2007 United States Environmental Protection Agency. March

18, 2007.


Secondhand Smoke Fact Sheet. 2007 American Lung

Association. March 18, 2007.