Exposing children to cigarette smoke could put them at serious risk of nicotine addiction, without ever having smoked a cigarette themselves. A recent Canadian study has shown a very clear link between smoking parents and nicotine dependency among their children.
Smoking in cars has been singled out as particularly harmful. A team led by Mathieu Bélanger (an epidemiologist at the University of Moncton in New Brunswick province, Canada) questioned around 1,500 schoolchildren aged between 10 and 12 in order to assess their level of exposure to passive smoking both at home and in the car.
Out of the 1,488 young people who said that they had never smoked, 69 (ie 4.6%) nevertheless gave responses revealing a certain level of nicotine dependency. They admitted to a strong urge to smoke whenever they saw other children of the same age carrying cigarrettes.
According to the researchers, this is the first time it has been proven that passive smoking can create nicotine dependency. They also indicated that if parents smoke while in the car with their children, the risk of nicotine addiction in non-smokers is increased by 20%.
The Canadian researchers also point out that alongside our lungs, no fewer than 10 other organs and bodily systems are at risk of cancer due to smoking. The principal danger lies in the nose and pharynx, the kidneys, the mouth and lips, the bladder, the pancreas, the larynx, the oesophagus and the sinuses. Even when asleep, not only children but adults are not protected from the risks involved in smoking.
Smoking reduces respiratory capacity, even during rest. Acetone and tar damage the mucous membrane when smoke passes along our respiratory tract. These two toxic substances also cause coughing and the inflammation of the bronchial tubes. Nicotine, for its part, causes a violent contraction of the respiratory tract with each inhalation and affects the functioning of the pulmonary alveoli.
Carbon monoxide given off by combustion combines with the haemoglobin in the blood, preventing it from transporting oxygen efficiently. This causes a sudden oxygen shortage, consequently affecting the efficiency of the function of the lungs. Together, the effects of smoking lead to an increase in resting respiratory rate while triggering breathlessness more quickly during active periods.
According to specialists, one smoker in every two dies from this habit.