Smoking cigarettes is a bad idea and medical science is continuously proving it’s even worse than originally imagined.  Science has proven that smoking often kills the smoker, by way of inhaled (first-hand) smoke.  Second-hand smoking is both annoying and dangerous to anyone who, willingly or not, inhales the smoke of a nearby smoker.  The medical journal, ‘Pediatrics,’ has now identified third-hand smoke and the health dangers it poses, especially to the very youngest non-smokers in a room.

Even when a smoker isn’t actively smoking, toxic dust and dangerous volatile chemical compounds that filled the air while the cigarette was lit are still in the air.  And what goes up, almost always comes down, settling onto furniture surfaces, flooring, and all other objects in the same room where the cigarette was smoked.  It’s this residual contamination that is becoming known as third-hand smoke.

What makes third-hand smoke a particular concern is that it settles onto eating utensils and glassware that children eat and drink from, passing the toxins it contains on to the child.  It also settles on children’s food, toys, and everything else in the room, a particular concern for children who are learning to crawl along contaminated carpets, rugs, and smooth floorings and for everything a young child puts into his or her mouth.

Many parents are aware of the health risks to their children and pets when toxic lawn chemicals are used outside and a growing number of parents and pet owners have chosen to refrain from their use.  In light of the ‘Pediatrics’ report on third-hand smoke, Joel Africk suggests concerned parents beware of the hazards of third-hand smoke with the same degree of vigilance with which they monitor lawn chemicals.  Africk is president and CEO of the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago.

While noting the ‘Pediatrics’ study doesn’t call for a legal ban on cigarette smoking in the privacy of one’s home, he does urge parents to be aware of the hazards cigarettes cause to their children, even after the cigarette is extinguished and the smoke has cleared.  According to Africk, it seems rather simple.  He says, “if (parents) allow smoking in the home, it’s going to hurt their children.”