Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of illness and death in the U.S. There are different health risks associated with smoking, which vary depending on the type of smoke individuals are exposed to.
In 1st hand smoking, the smoke is breathed in by the smoker.
In 2nd hand smoking, the smoke is released by both the smoker and the lighted end of a cigarette.
3rd hand smoking includes what's left of smoking a cigarette or other tobacco products (ex. smoke residue).
Visible signs: yellow-like fingers, smoke scent, stained teeth, hacking cough, allergy-like symptoms (runny nose, fever, itchiness, etc.)
Non-Visible signs: (over time) damaged heart and blood cells, weaker immune system, damaged lungs and respiratory system, decreased bone density;…it affects almost every system in your body.
This type of smoking harms not only the smoker, but also those exposed to the smoke released.
Health Risks: cancer, lung/respiratory infections, heart attacks; for pregnant women: a higher chance of having problems during pregnancy, and for children: a higher chance of developing asthma, lung and ear infections.
This type of smoking threatens the health of individuals exposed to it, as well as wildlife and the environment.
Common areas to find tobacco residue: carpets, hair, clothes, vehicles, homes.
Some of the toxic particles found in tobacco residue includes carcinogens (substance that causes cancer), arsenic, lead, cyanide, and nicotine.
So what does tobacco use have anything to do with health or our communities?
Health problems are controlled by Social Determinants of Health, which are the social and environmental conditions in which people are born and grown into, that impact the quality of life. Examples of social determinants of health include: housing, job stability, transportation, poverty, financial background, educational opportunities, access to healthcare, racism, access to food, etc. Health inequities are unjust and preventable differences in a person’s health status, and stem from social determinants of health. The following diagram helps summarize the relationship between social determinants of health, health inequities, and tobacco use:
SOCIAL DETERMINANTS OF HEALTH THAT INFLUENCE TOBACCO USE AND/OR EXPOSURE
RACE / ETHNICITY
These are just some of the many determinants that contribute to inequities that undermine the health of individuals and communities. Basing our efforts on these factors will not only help prevent future tobacco illnesses and deaths in the nation, but it will also help establish solutions that are equitable to our communities.