Second Hand Smoke Exposure

Second hand smoke comes from the burning end of a cigarette, cigar or pipe. A person breathing second hand smoke is exposed to the same cancer causing toxic chemicals such as tar, nicotine, cyanide, formaldehyde, arsenic, ammonia, methane, and carbon monoxide as the person smoking the cigarette.

Cystic Fibrosis patients are at risk every time they are around second hand smoke. The chemicals in the smoke settle in the environment and stay there even after a cigarette has been put out. These harmful chemicals stay on your clothes, hair, rugs, curtains, toys and coat every exposed surface. They can remain in enclosed areas such as a car or house for hours, days or longer. Babies and children can be harmed because they breathe the toxins when they crawl on floors, sit in car seats, or cuddle with adults.

Inflammation and mucus build-up are problems that already exist in people with CF, and breathing in second hand smoke makes these problems worse. Compared to non-CF lungs, lungs with CF have mucus that is thicker and harder to clear from airways.

Second hand smoke dries the passages inside the nose, traps mucus, and shuts down the cilia, stopping them from doing their work of cleaning dirt and germs out of the airway.

Smoke exposure in CF infants is associated with slower growth, poorer lung function (measured by FEV1), increased air trapping, increased frequency of cough, and severity of respiratory illness than those not exposed. They show a more rapid decline in FEV1 with age than nonsmokers, and the biggest difference is in growth rates. Infants in smoke free homes grow much better during their first year than infants who are exposed to second hand smoke.

Cigarette smoke contains irritants that cause inflammation or swelling of the airways, and damages the airways and air sacs which can lead to chronic lung disease.

People with CF already have a hard time eating and gaining weight, and second hand smoke can decrease the sense of smell and taste, thus decreasing the appetite.

Children exposed to second hand smoke have increased hospital admissions for asthma, serious respiratory infections, ear problems, and are at increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) than those not exposed. They have more colds, ear infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, reduced lung function, and cancer later in life.

Protection from second hand smoke (what you can do)

If you smoke, avoid smoking around children. Choose a place to smoke outside, away from where children play. Ask other adults to smoke outside. Opening windows is not enough protection against passive tobacco smoke.

If you have friends or family who smoke, ask them not to smoke around you or your child with CF. Inform them that the smoke can increase your child’s risk for developing health problems.

Do not allow smoking in your home or car, even when your children are not present.

Explain the extent of the problems that second hand smoke can cause, and ask your friends and family for their cooperation.

Stay away from restaurants and other public places that allow indoor smoking. Even if you sit in the non-smoking sections, you will still be exposed to second hand smoke.

Support efforts in your community to make smoking a thing of the past