One definition of abuse is to treat in a harmful, injurious, or offensive way. It does not have to be a deliberate act of causing harm to be considered abuse. How can something that can cause sickness or death in children be considered anything but abuse? If a drug-addicted mother smokes crack cocaine around her children most people would consider that child abuse. If a father were to take a spray can of poisonous chemicals and spray it throughout his home and car repeatedly, on a daily basis with his children present, I don’t think anybody would have a problem with that being considered abuse either. Cigarette smoke has been proven to be a health hazard. In fact, it is the same as spraying toxic chemicals into the air.
There are over 4,000 chemicals in cigarettes. Many of which are toxic and can result in ill health or death to both the smoker and those around him. There are over 40 toxic substances in second-hand smoke known to cause cancer. Some of the chemicals include: ammonia, benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide, nicotine, pesticides, and tar. Sidestream smoke, that which comes off the end of a burning cigarette, is more hazardous than mainstream smoke. The toxic chemical properties of sidestream smoke along with the fact that they are smaller particles creates a higher rate of absorption in the lungs, thus making it even more dangerous than that which is inhaled through the filtered end of the cigarette.
Scientific studies have concluded that passive smoking leads to increased illness to children and nonsmoking adults. The list of adverse effects includes but is not limited to: bronchitis, pneumonia, ear infections, reduced lung function, increase in asthma attacks, and reduced oxygen flow throughout the body. There is also an increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), tonsillectomy, meningococcal infections, childhood cancers and leukemia, slower rate of growth, adverse neurobehavioral effects, and the beginning of heart disease.
Are people who smoke bad, evil beings? Of course not. My mother was a smoker. She was a wonderful kind-hearted woman. But when I was growing up the hazards of first hand smoke let alone second hand smoke were not publicized for the average American. Instead we were lambasted on the airways with commercials telling men they would be more masculine and women would be more feminine if they smoked. It was portrayed as being sexy to have a cigarette perched between your fingers. We were told it would taste good and calm your nerves. We weren’t told of the addictive additives that were secretly tucked into each little tube of tobacco. Nor were we told of the over 4,000 other chemicals that were added to the tobacco, many of which are toxic. So in defense of smokers from 30 years ago or so, you just didn’t know how bad smoking was to your children and yourselves. But today’s smokers know, although many choose to ignore the facts and stay in a state of denial.
If an adult decides to smoke then that is their legal right to do so. They choose to take the risk for whatever they think they are gaining from it. If you must smoke, step outside, away from your children to do so. But don’t smoke around children who are captives in a smoke-filled home or car. Exposing children to cigarette smoke is child abuse.