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Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Secondhand Smoke?

  • Chris Woolston, M.S.
  • Posted March 11, 2013

Smoking is a dangerous habit -- and not just for people who light up. Secondhand smoke contains many of the same irritants, toxins, and cancer-causing compounds that plague smokers. If you spend any time in smoke-filled bars, restaurants, homes, or offices, you should know the facts about this health hazard. Take this short quiz to test your secondhand smoke IQ.

1. According to the best current estimates, roughly how many Americans die from secondhand smoke each year?

a. 1,000

b. 5,000

c. Nearly 50,000

d. 100,000

2. Just 30 minutes in a smoke-filled room can be hard on your heart.

True

False

3. After smoking and radon, secondhand smoke is the third leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.

True

False

4. Children who breathe secondhand smoke are at high risk for which of the following illnesses?

a. Ear infections

b. Allergies

c. Pneumonia

d. Asthma

e. All of the above

5. Smoke from cigars or pipes is generally much safer than smoke from cigarettes.

True

False

Answers

1. According to the best current estimates, roughly how many Americans die from secondhand smoke each year?

The correct answer is: c. Nearly 50,000

After smoking and alcohol, secondhand smoke is the largest cause of preventable deaths in the United States. It kills an estimated 49,400 people a year, according to the National Cancer Institute. Of these deaths, an estimated 3,400 are caused by lung cancer, about 46,000 are from heart disease.

2. Just 30 minutes in a smoke-filled room can be hard on your heart.

The correct answer is: True

A recent study of healthy young men published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that breathing secondhand smoke for just 30 minutes caused measurable damage to the arteries. The researchers speculated that the damage could set the stage for atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). The conclusion: Even a little secondhand smoke is too much.

3. After smoking and radon, secondhand smoke is the third leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.

The correct answer is: True

After smoking and radon, secondhand smoke is the leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. (Other causes include air pollution and faulty genes.) The more smoke you inhale, the greater the risk. If you live with a smoker, do everything you can to help him or her quit.

4. Children who breathe secondhand smoke are at high risk for which of the following illnesses?

The correct answer is: e. All of the above

Young bodies should never have to cope with cigarette smoke. Children whose parents smoke are 20 percent to 30 percent more likely to have asthma. And according to the American Lung Association, secondhand smoke contributes to 150,000 to 300,000 cases of bronchitis and pneumonia in babies and toddlers every year. Up to 15,000 of these young victims have to be hospitalized. If you have children in your house, you have every incentive to shun smoking.

5. Smoke from cigars or pipes is generally much safer than smoke from cigarettes.

The correct answer is: False

Tobacco smoke -- whether it comes from a cigarette, pipe, or cigar -- contains a toxic blend of more than 4,000 chemicals. In fact, smoke from cigars actually contains more tar and other poisons than smoke from cigarettes. In short, there's no such thing as safe secondhand smoke.

References

Centers for Disease Control. Secondhand Smoke. November 9, 2010. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/ets.htm

Centers for Disease Control. Cigarette Smoking-Related Mortality. September 15, 2010. http://www.cdc.gov/

American Lung Association. Secondhand Smoke Fact Sheet. June 2007. http://www.lungusa.org/

Environmental Tobacco Smoke. Environmental Protection Agency. www.epa.gov

Glantz, S.A. and W.W. Parmley. Even a little secondhand smoke is dangerous. Journal of the American Medical Association. July 25, 2001. 286(4): 462-463.

Otsuka, R. et al. Acute effects of passive smoking on the coronary circulation in healthy young adults. Journal of the American Medical Association. July 25, 2001. 286(4): 436-441.

Bennet, W.P. et al. Environmental tobacco smoke, genetic susceptibility, and risk of lung cancer in never-smoking women. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 91(23): 2009-2013.

National Cancer Institute. NCI Health Information Tip Sheet for Writers: Secondhand Smoke. January 2005. http://www.cancer.gov/newscenter/tip-sheet-secondhand-smoke

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