Passive smoking

“Passive smoking” is the inhalation of tobacco smoke that is present in the air you breathe. You are therefore a passive smoker if you are in a room where people smoke.

How dangerous is passive smoking?

The tobacco company Philip Morris stated as early as 1987 as part of the “Down under” project:

Where we are In deep shit […]

We cannot say ETS is “safe” and if we do, this is a “dangerous” statement

ETS is the abbreviation for “Environmental Tobacco Smoke”, i.e. passive smoking. We recommend reading the original document here:

To date, there is not a single credible independent study that classifies passive smoking as harmless. Not even from the tobacco industry. Instead, the effect of a large number of toxins contained in tobacco smoke on the human organism is known and the fact that tobacco smoke contains carcinogenic substances is certain.

While the possible lethal effect of passive smoking is denied by the tobacco companies with reference to the lack of irrefutable evidence, there are serious and credible scientific studies on this subject which, in addition to statements on the number of deaths, also list the clinical pictures and acute symptoms associated with passive smoking:

  • Acute symptoms
  • Lower lung malfunction
  • Irritation of the airways, coughing and sputum production
  • Shortness of breath during physical exertion
  • Irritation of the nose
  • Burning and watering eyes
  • Swelling and redness of the mucous membranes
  • Increased susceptibility to infections
  • Headaches
  • Dizzy spells
Chronic diseases and causes of death
  • Asthma (development and exacerbation)
  • Pneumonia (development and exacerbation)
  • Bronchitis (development and exacerbation)
  • Cystic fibrosis (exacerbation)
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Stroke
  • Peripheral arterial occlusive disease
  • Lung cancer
  • Cervical cancer

There is no serious doubt about the harmful effects on health. Irrespective of confirmed and unconfirmed findings, logic dictates that smoke that is harmful to smokers cannot be harmless to passive smokers.

How many deaths does passive smoking cause?

The German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg has published a scientific study which estimates that more than 3,300 people die from passive smoking in Germany every year in the home. The figure is therefore likely to be significantly higher when calculated for the entire population. Other calculation models assume at least 10,000 victims per year in Germany alone. However, a definitive, all-encompassing figure does not yet exist.

How seriously should the voices of those who claim that passive smoking does no harm be taken?

Not at all. The main protagonists work on a pseudo-scientific basis and are often paid or instrumentalized by the tobacco industry. A prominent example is Prof. Überla, former president of the Federal Health Office, who delivered a “desired” result for the Verband der Cigarettenindustrie (VdC) for 2 million marks. There are no credible studies by scientists with an impeccable reputation in this context.

What do we recommend?

Avoid spending time in rooms where people smoke. There is no study that certifies that smoking is harmless. On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that passive smoking can lead to serious illness and long-term damage, including premature death.

If you have no influence on this, reduce your exposure time as much as possible. Get out into the fresh air as often and regularly as possible and breathe deeply.

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