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Thank You for Not Smoking

How do you tell an acquaintance their smoking not only bothers you, but it's a hazard to your health and your child's?

I grew up a smoker; before I even finished elementary school I could inhale 10 cigarettes in an hour. Shocking isn’t it? I did not smoke by choice; both of my parents were smokers and could each put away a pack a day. According to statistics in a recent Live Strong article, children that spend an hour in a smoky room can inhale toxins equivalent to 10 cigarettes.

As I grew up and learned the dangers of secondhand smoke, I would leave the room when they lit up. Sadly this was not an option when we took a car ride somewhere; then I was trapped.

The dangers of secondhand smoke are widely known: 69 chemicals in cigarette smoke are known to cause cancer. Secondhand smoke can cause lung cancer in non-smokers; it has also been associated with heart disease in adults, sudden infant death and asthma attacks in children.

It’s probably no surprise that I am not a smoker. I was never tempted to light up and my husband is the same way. I was adamant my children would not be exposed to the dangers of secondhand smoke like I was. So far it has been easy to achieve this; none of our friends smoke and my mom quit so I don’t have to ask her to step outside when she comes to visit.

Over the last decade many states have banned smoking in public places. As a parent, I was thrilled when Connecticut followed suit knowing I could now bring my kids out to eat in a restaurant without fear of the diners at the next table lighting up.

Recently, though, one of my kids has been making new friends and one girl has parents who smoke. My daughter went to her house once and her parents pretty much chain-smoked in the house the whole time she was there. The dilemma for me is how do I tactfully turn down further invitations to the girl’s house? So far I have made excuses and had the girl come visit at our house, but I am going to run out of excuses soon.

I know I am not the only one with this problem. I had a conversation with a friend recently and she had insisted that when her son went to the smoker’s house, they play outside in the yard. I have teenagers so they don’t “play outside” any more so her solution was great for her, not so much for me!

What suggestions do you have for me to breach the subject with these parents? 

john davidson April 25, 2012 at 10:45 AM
I grew up a smoker; before I even finished elementary school I could inhale 10 cigarettes in an hour. Shocking isn’t it? I did not smoke by choice; both of my parents were smokers and could each put away a pack a day. According to statistics in a recent Live Strong article, children that spend an hour in a smoky room can inhale toxins equivalent to 10 cigarettes. Your so full of chit! Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, Vol. 14, No. 1. (August 1991), pp. 88-105. Abstract Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is derived from cigarette smoldering and active smoker exhalation. Its composition displays broad quantitative differences and redistributions between gas and respirable suspended particulate (RSP) phases when compared with the mainstream smoke (MSS) that smokers puff. This is because of different generation conditions and because ETS is diluted and ages vastly more than MSS. Such differences prevent a direct comparison of MSS and ETS and their biologic activities. However, even assuming similarities on an equal mass basis, ETS-RSP inhaled doses are estimated to be between 10,000- and 100,000-fold less than estimated average MSS-RSP doses for active smokers. Differences in effective gas phase doses are expected to be of similar magnitude. Thus the average person exposed to ETS would retain an annual dose analogous to the active MSS smoking of considerably less than one cigarette dispersed over a 1-year period.
john davidson April 25, 2012 at 10:45 AM
By contrast, consistent epidemiologic data indicate that active smoking of some 4–5 cigarettes per day may not be associated with a significantly increased risk of lung cancer. Similar indications also obtain for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Since average doses of ETS to nonsmoking subjects in epidemiologic studies are several thousand times less than this reported intake level, the marginal relative risks of lung cancer and other diseases attributed to ETS in some epidemiologic studies are likely to be statistical artifacts, derived from unaccounted confounders and unavoidable bias http://www.citeulike.org/user/vmarthi...
john davidson April 25, 2012 at 10:46 AM
Scientific Evidence Shows Secondhand Smoke Is No Danger Written By: Jerome Arnett, Jr., M.D. Published In: Environment & Climate News Publication Date: July 1, 2008 Publisher: http://www.heartland .org/policybot/resul ts/23399/Scientific_ Evidence_Sho... myth-of-second-hand- smoke http://yourdoctorsor ders.com/2009/01/the -myth-of-second-hand -smoke BS Alert: The 'third-hand smoke' hoax http://www.examiner.com/public-policy-in-louisville/bs-alert-the-third-hand-smoke-hoax The thirdhand smoke scam http://velvetgloveironfist.blogspot.com/2010/02/thirdhand-smoke-scam.html
john davidson April 25, 2012 at 10:48 AM
69 chemicals in cigarette smoke are known to cause cancer. Secondhand smoke can cause lung cancer in non-smokers; it has also been associated with heart disease in adults, sudden infant death and asthma attacks in children. It’s propaganda - fallacies created to have justifications for a new round of tobacco prohibition. I am for freedom, freedom for all people to have their own place in this world, including the smokers! Tobacco smoke maybe an irritant to some, but that’s about it. Its chemical makeup has been so exaggerated by tobacco control pundits, it’s insanity. Only 6 percent of tobacco smoke constitutes those 7,000 theorized and identified components of the smoke. Theorized is the word, since the claimed chemicals are themselves so small they can barely be detected. Nanograms, femtograms are the sizes of what can be detected so they theorize the rest. Four percent is carbon monoxide, while nearly 90 percent constitutes ordinary atmospheric air! These figures come from the surgeon general’s report in 1989.
john davidson April 25, 2012 at 10:48 AM
Oh the pundits may bring up benzene in tobacco smoke. The average cigarette produces roughly 300 micrograms of benzene (1986 report of the surgeon general. p.130) 0.3 micrograms - 300 nanograms. Benzene is normally found in fruits, fish, vegetables, nuts, dairy products, beverages and eggs. The National Cancer Institute estimates that an individual may safely ingest up to 250 micrograms in their food per day, every single day of the year. Thus, the “safe” exposure to benzene from one day of a normal diet is roughly equal to the exposure experienced by a nonsmoker sharing an airspace with smokers for over 750 hours.
Julie Gariepy April 25, 2012 at 11:42 AM
Don't believe everything you read. Second hand smoke is harmfull and has been linked to the increase in many diseases in nonsmokers who are around second hand smoke. Also now reseachers are discovering that there is now another danger, third hand smoke. The residue of smoke on clothing can also cause issues in babies of parents who smoke. Furthermore it has been proven that children of parents who smoke are more likely to smoke themselves. So I don't understand why any parent would expose their children to any "potential" health dangersm
Broke Dick Dad April 25, 2012 at 02:37 PM
So clearly John Davidson has drank the Philip Morris Kool-Aid. He almost makes a case that smoking is better than eating your vegetables. One link should settle the score.... http://www.thetruth.com In answer to your question, Doreen, seems like honesty is the only way forward. Talk to the parents offline (i.e. out of earshot of the kids) and tell them you are concerned about smoking around your kids and ask them what they could do to alleviate your concerns. I'm sure they will say, "No problem. We won't smoke inside while your kids are over."
john davidson April 25, 2012 at 02:40 PM
BS Alert: The 'third-hand smoke' hoax http://www.examiner.com/public-policy-in-louisville/bs-alert-the-third-hand-smoke-hoax The thirdhand smoke scam http://velvetgloveironfist.blogspot.com/2010/02/thirdhand-smoke-scam.html
john davidson April 25, 2012 at 02:42 PM
If you’re afraid of second-hand smoke, you should also avoid cars, restaurants…and don’t even think of barbecuing. here are just some of the chemicals present in tobacco smoke and what else contains them: Arsenic, Benzine, Formaldehyde. Arsenic- 8 glasses of water = 200 cigarettes worth of arsenic Benzine- Grilling of one burger = 250 cigarettes Formaldehyde – cooking a vegetarian meal = 100 cigarettes When you drink your 8 glasses of tap water (64 ounces) a day, you're safely drinking up to 18,000 ng of arsenic by government safety standards of 10 nanograms/gram (10 ng/gm = 18,000ng/64oz) for daily consumption.
john davidson April 25, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Am I "poisoning" you with the arsenic from my cigarette smoke? Actually, with the average cigarette putting out 32 ng of arsenic into the air which is then diluted by normal room ventilation for an individual exposure of .032 ng/hour, you would have to hang out in a smoky bar for literally 660,000 hours every day (yeah, a bit hard, right?) to get the same dose of arsenic that the government tells you is safe to drink. So you can see why claims that smokers are "poisoning" people are simply silly. You can stay at home all day long if you don’t want all those “deadly” chemicals around you, but in fact, those alleged 4000-7000 theorized chemicals in cigarettes are present in many foods, paints etc. in much larger quantities. And as they are present in cigarettes in very small doses, they are harmless. Sorry, no matter how much you like the notion of harmful ETS, it’s a myth.
john davidson April 25, 2012 at 03:05 PM
The inconvenient truth is that the only studies of children of smokers suggest it is PROTECTIVE in contracting atopy in the first place. The New Zealand study says by a staggering factor of 82%. “Participants with atopic parents were also less likely to have positive SPTs between ages 13 and 32 years if they smoked themselves (OR=0.18), and this reduction in risk remained significant after adjusting for confounders. The authors write: “We found that children who were exposed to parental smoking and those who took up cigarette smoking themselves had a lower incidence of atopy to a range of common inhaled allergens. “These associations were found only in those with a parental history of asthma or hay fever.” They conclude: Our findings suggest that preventing allergic sensitization is not one of them.” The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Volume 121, Issue 1 , Pages 38-42.e3, January 2008 http://www.jacionline.org/article/S00...(07)01954-9/abstract
Julie Gariepy April 25, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Doreen, I agree with "dad". If they are decient people they should understand your concern. And John, yes, there are harmfull substances everywhere....but why so overbearing about how others are wrong in their information? Information is great and you definately posted a ton that some I find interesting (others ridiculous) but why can't you understand a parents concern for their children? And by the way, I am not just some woman with some ideas I read somewhere, I'm a RN and I've seen the direct harmfull affects of smoking more than the general population. Your tune might change if you had to suction someones trach becuase they have such advanced mouth anf throat cancer from tobacco that their tounge has cut off their airway and they can no longer eat (only via a feeding tube), talk, or breathe normally. So I guess in the mean time....smoke away.

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