Children who grow up with a family member who smokes are three times more likely to start smoking themselves.
Dubai - Children also breathe faster, hence are more susceptible to illnesses like cough, pneumonia, asthma and even bronchitis.
Children are exposed to more secondhand smoke than non-smoking adults, according to The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. On an average, two out of every five children aged three to 11, are exposed to secondhand smoke in the United States - from a cigarette, cigar, or pipe.
Scientific studies show that there can be around 4,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke; at least 250 are known to cause disease. They can be inhaled by anyone near a smoker. Some of these chemicals are: tar, which cause cancer; carbon monoxide which reduces the amount of oxygen in blood - so people can develop heart diseases - and poisons including arsenic, ammonia and cyanide. The amount of carbon monoxide is not enough to cause any immediate effects in passive smokers (such as feeling tired), but over a long time the effects can worsen heart disease.
According to Health Authority - Abu Dhabi (HAAD), tobacco use is one of the most important risk factor for cancer, causing 22 per cent of global cancer deaths and 71 per cent of worldwide lung cancer deaths. Children who grow up with a parent or family member who smokes are three times more likely to start smoking themselves.
Passive smoking particularly leads to increased risk of children getting serious respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia. Studies show that children, whose parents smoke get sick more often, have more lung infections like bronchitis and pneumonia and are more likely to cough, wheeze, and have shortness of breath.
Dr Mohammed Zaheeruddin, specialist pediatrician at Medeor 24x7 Hospital, Dubai, said: "Second hand smoking is breathing in smoke from other people's cigarettes, cigars and even shisha. If you are around smokers, you are smoking as well."
"One cigarette contains more than 250 active carcinogenic chemicals, including formaldehyde, benzene, vinyl chloride, arsenic, ammonia and hydrogen cyanide. Irrespective of whether you smoke or not, inhaling someone else's smoke can be equally dangerous and can increase the risk of cancer and other health problems," he said.
"Second hand smoke is particularly harmful for children as their lungs are smaller than adults. Children also breathe faster, hence are more susceptible to illnesses like cough, pneumonia, asthma and even bronchitis. It can also make asthma symptoms worse in kids already suffering from asthma and trigger asthma attacks."
Every year, on 31 May, WHO and partners mark World No Tobacco Day, highlighting the health and additional risks associated with tobacco use, and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.
"I would urge parents to educate their kids about the harmful effects of passive smoking. Awareness about the adverse effects of smoking tobacco whether active or passive should start in early childhood so that the kids are aware before stepping into something which can be life threatening later," Dr Mohamed Berer, the medical director of Medeor 24x7 Hospital.
"Second hand smoking can cause chronic respiratory problems like asthma and chest infection in kids," he said. One should seldom smoke in front of their kids be it cigarette or shisha. Sending your kids to the other room when you want to smoke is not a great alternative either. One should have a smoke-free house and even a smoke free car. "Remember, kids learn the most from parents and hence it is every parent's duty to inculcate healthy habits in their kids. And by doing this you are not only helping your kids but other family members as well," he said.