By going smokefree, you could improve the well-being of your friends, family, coworkers, and even your pets. Here’s how the cigarettes you smoke affect the people around you.
Have kids at home? Lighting up around them increases their risk of developing ear infections, asthma, and other breathing complications—like coughs, shortness of breath, and even bronchitis. Children who grow up watching their parents smoke are also more likely to become smokers as teens. Being an adult, of course, doesn’t protect anyone from the damaging effects of cigarettes. The lungs and hearts of all family members in your home are put at risk by secondhand smoke, no matter how wide you keep the windows open—or how many fans you make use of.
Even if you’re not puffing on cigarettes in the office (or other worksite), your colleagues can still be impacted. Smoking can decrease your productivity on the job, plus all those potential medical complications linked to smoking. Heart disease, diabetes, and reduced immune function (to name just a few) can cause you to take more time off than a non-smoking colleague. One study estimated that smokers cost businesses an average of $5,816 extra dollars each year.
Secondhand smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals. Hundreds of them are toxic and 70 have been shown to cause cancer in humans. Breathing in secondhand smoke—whether it’s from a neighbor’s burning cigarette or from a cigarette outside your window—has been shown to have instant effects on the cardiovascular system of nearby individuals. Over time, secondhand smoke takes a toll on people’s lungs and has been found to increase the risk of stroke in those exposed by 20-30%.
The Good News
- The sooner you quit, the more likely you are to improve your own heart and lung health, as well as the hearts and lungs of people you coexist with. In fact, your commitment to quitting can inspire others to follow in your footsteps.
- If you and your spouse both smoke, your decision to quit can increase the odds they’ll do the same by 67%! (How’s that for some serious influence?) Of course, you don’t have to be married to the person you’re inspiring to have an effect. A close friend of yours who also smokes is 43% more likely to quit if you lead the way.
- The earlier parents quit smoking, the less likely their children will pick up cigarettes themselves.
- When you give up cigarettes, you’ll have more time left over from those smoke breaks you’re no longer taking—plus some extra savings from no longer shelling out all that money for packs of cigarettes. Perfect chance to do something good for the health of your colleagues, family members, or friends. (Need ideas? Head to our Future Self stories!)