Passive smoking can be a significant irritant to add to severity; even cause asthma


  • Smoking and asthma – Double jeopardy for lung and sinus diseases
  • Non-smokers have a right over the air they breathe
  • Government initiatives towards no smoking areas make it easier for nonsmokers to lead smoke-free lives

Souvik’s friend Deepak lights up a cigarette every chance he gets – while he’s driving around with their friends on Friday nights, during breaks at office, before attending meetings, even while he is around his younger brother. Souvik is worried, not only for Deepak’s health, but even his own. He is not sure whether Deepak realizes how his habit is affecting the health of the people he smokes around.


Doctors at Columbia Asia Hospital, Patiala say, for people suffering with asthma, second hand smoke is very harmful. When asthmatic patient are exposed to secondhand smoke, they are more likely to experience wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath associated with asthma.

Inhaling secondhand smoke or passive smoke could be even more harmful than smoking itself. This is because the smoke that burns off the end of a cigarette contains more harmful substances like tar, carbon monoxide, nicotine, and other as compared to the smoke inhaled by the smoker. Secondhand smoke harms children with asthma even more than adults. When children are exposed to tobacco smoke, their lungs get irritated and produce an excess amount of mucus. Children’s airways are smaller and so the side effect of secondhand smoke affects them faster and could also impair their lung function in the future. Children of parents who smoke are also more likely to develop lung and sinus infections. These infections can make asthma symptoms worse and more difficult to control.

Dr. Yadvarinder Singh Bath, Consultant Internal Medicine, Columbia Asia Hospital, Patiala said, “Chances are you are acquainted with someone who smokes. It could be your friend, colleague, or even your spouse. Whether you smoke or you are regularly around someone who does, it’s never healthy to breathe in tobacco smoke. This occasional exposure can also take a toll on the body. To the person smoking, it may seem harmless, but secondhand smoke contains thousands of chemicals ranging from arsenic and ammonia to hydrogen cyanide which has been proven to be toxic and carcinogenic. This secondhand smoke significantly increases a person’s risk for respiratory infections like bronchitis and pneumonia, as well as their chances of having an asthma attack. Not only does it have a huge impact on a person’s health in the future, but can affect people’s physical activity.”

The National Family Health Survey – 4 (2015 -16) states that an average of 30% people (both men and women) have attempted to quit smoking in the last 12 months. This is a result of the government initiatives such as health campaigns, cigarette taxes, and no smoking policies which have had a major impact in reducing the number of current cigarette smokers in this country, although most of the adult population still continues to be active smokers.

Dr. Y S Bath adds that “New laws are making it easier for nonsmokers to lead smoke-free lives. Similar to a person has the choice to light a cigarette; non-smokers have the choice to walk away from other people smoking around them at home, work, restaurants, or friends’ or relatives homes. Smoke from cigarettes lingers in the air hours after the cigarette is put out. That means if a smoker is puffing away anywhere inside, other people are inhaling that smoke, too. Smoke sticks to people and their clothing, when smokers come back inside, they should wash their hands and change their clothing, especially before holding or hugging children”,

These are some helpful tips to avoid secondhand smoke:

  • Do not smoke or allow others to smoke in your home or car. Opening a window does not protect you from smoke
  • When you are out in public, look for restaurants and other places that do not allow smoking. Restaurants that have a smoking section do not protect you adequately from secondhand smoke even if there is a filter or ventilation system
  • Make sure your children’s schools are tobacco-free. This means no tobacco use or advertising on school property is allowed by anyone at any time. This includes off-campus school events as well
  • Teach your children to stay away from secondhand smoke. Be a good role model for them by not smoking

Columbia Asia Hospital, Patiala believes, taking a stand on secondhand smoke will keep you healthier and will in-turn even help someone you care about get rid of this unhealthy habit.

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