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Secondhand Smoke Should Not Be Tolerated

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

I will be hosting an adoption party honoring our eight-month-old son. Close friends and relatives will be attending. However, there will be a few guests who are rude smokers. We are a non-smoking household, and I am concerned that these few will not excuse themselves to smoke.

As a host, how should I approach this situation? It hardly seems proper to post a No Smoking sign, but I am unsure how to ask an individual who takes the liberty of lighting up in my home.


Smoking etiquette

Dear Smoking etiquette,

The dangers of smoking as well as secondhand smoke have been well documented. Secondhand smoke has been classified as a cancer causing agent and should not be tolerated.

Anyone who decides to light up in your home should be told politely but firmly that they will need to go outside to smoke.

If you know that the offending smokers will undoubtedly light up in your home, then when they arrive, let them know that you would appreciate it if they smoked outside for the health of the baby. You may have to enlist the help of other relatives for back up if the offenders insist on smoking in your home. The alternative is to not invite the smokers.

The American Lung Association has a Secondhand Smoke Fact Sheet ( In brief, below are some major points from the fact sheet.


Secondhand smoke can cause or exacerbate a wide range of adverse health effects including cancer, respiratory infections, and asthma.

1. Secondhand smoke has been classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a known cause of cancer in humans.

2. Secondhand smoke exposure causes disease and premature death in children and adults who do not smoke.

3. Secondhand smoke causes approximately 3,400 lung cancer deaths and 22,700-69,600 heart disease deaths in adult nonsmokers in the United States each year.

4. A study found that nonsmokers exposed to environmental smoke were 25 percent more likely to have coronary heart diseases compared to nonsmokers not exposed to smoke.

5. Secondhand smoke is especially harmful to young children. Secondhand smoke is responsible for between 150,000 and 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections in infants and children under 18 months of age, resulting in between 7,500 and 15,000 hospitalizations each year, and causes 1,900 to 2,700 sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) deaths in the United States annually.

6. Secondhand smoke exposure may cause buildup of fluid in the middle ear, resulting in 700,000 to 1.6 million physician office visits per year.

7. Secondhand smoke can also aggravate symptoms in 400,000 to 1,000,000 children with asthma.

8. The current Surgeon General's Report concluded that scientific evidence indicates that there is no risk-free level of exposure to second hand smoke.

9. Short exposures to second hand smoke can cause blood platelets to become stickier, damage the lining of blood vessels, decrease coronary flow velocity reserves, and reduce heart rate variability, potentially increasing the risk of heart attack.

10. In the United States, 21 million, or 35 percent of, children live in homes where residents or visitors smoke in the home on a regular basis.

For more information on secondhand smoke, see