Susceptible to asthma and bronchitis: Smoking on the balcony also endangers children

Susceptible to asthma and bronchitis: Smoking on the balcony also endangers children

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Parents who smoke outside also endanger the health of their children
There are probably only a few smokers left who light a cigarette even in the presence of their children. But even if parents go to the balcony or to the front door to smoke, according to experts, they endanger the health of their offspring.

Smoking also puts people at risk
Tobacco consumption not only endangers your own health, but also the health of others. According to an older international data collection by the World Health Organization (WHO), passive smoking kills 600,000 people annually. Studies have shown that passive smoke can mainly cause heart diseases such as heart attacks, respiratory diseases such as asthma and lung cancer. And even if smokers go outside for their cigarette, they endanger the health of their children. This was pointed out by experts before the 20th German Lung Day in Göttingen.

Smoke in the hair and clothing
General knowledge should now be that passive smoking is also unhealthy. But even if parents go outside for their cigarette, they endanger their offspring.

"Anyone who smokes on the balcony or in front of the front door then drags smoke into their hair and clothing into the apartment," said lung specialist Christiane Lex from the University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) in a message from the dpa news agency.

“And when children come into contact with it, it can make them sick,” says Lex, who directs the focus on pediatric pulmonary medicine at the UMG and organizes the central event of the 20th German Lung Day this year.

There is now less smoking in apartments
Most smoking parents are now aware that the smoke is dangerous for their children. "That is why there is less and less smoking in apartments," said the expert. Many parents reported that they "only" smoke on the balcony or in front of the door.

"They think that there is no longer any danger for their children." However, this is wrong. "Even if parents only smoke outside, their children have asthma or bronchitis much more often than children of non-smokers," said the lung specialist.

There are even more health risks. The German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) writes on its website: "Children of smoking parents are more likely to suffer from acute and chronic respiratory diseases such as coughing, expectoration, wheezing and breathlessness, and they are more likely to develop middle ear infections than children of non-smoking parents."

Pneumologist Tobias Raupach from the University Medical Center in Göttingen pointed out in the dpa report that there are no studies on how great the risk for children from "outside smokers" is.

But cigarette smoke contains such a high concentration of fine dust particles "that exposure to small amounts can also have an impact on the organism".

Unhealthy substances are dragged into the apartment
"Anyone who smokes outside carries nicotine and carcinogenic substances, respirable particles and other toxic substances into the apartment," explained Katrin Schaller from the DKFZ in the agency report.

Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, at least 200 of which are harmful to humans.

According to the DKFZ, components of tobacco smoke not only get into the air from your hair and clothing, but also from your hands.

In addition, smokers exhaled smoke particles up to 90 seconds after the last puff. All of this means that residues of tobacco smoke can be found even in apartments where no one has lit a cigarette.

Children are particularly sensitive
The pediatrician Gesine Hansen from the Hannover Medical School (MHH) also said: "Smoking is a major risk factor for lung diseases in children, even in smokers' households, where people only smoke outdoors."

According to the pediatrician, there is, for example, increased nicotine levels in house dust in the homes of such households.

According to cancer researcher Schaller, babies and toddlers are primarily affected by the smoke that is brought in: "You take them in your arms." But there is also a danger because small children put everything in their mouths and suck them.

Relatively little is known about the long-term effects of this pollutant intake, but according to the Federal Center for Health Education, children are generally particularly sensitive to the toxins contained in tobacco smoke because their organs are still developing. For example, the lungs can quickly be significantly damaged.

It's best not to smoke at all
Therefore, according to dpa, Schaller recommends: "If you smoke outside, it's best to wear a jacket and hat that you take off afterwards so that no smoke gets into your clothes and hair."

MHH doctor Hansen advises parents to “avoid smoking altogether so as not to cause lasting damage to their children”.

And the Göttingen pneumologist Raupach explained: "Since there is no threshold for the effect of passive smoke on the organism, below which there would be no danger, any exposure is associated with a danger."

A tobacco advertising ban could possibly also contribute to improved protection for non-smokers. After all, according to experts, Germany is still a paradise for smokers. (ad)

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