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Essay Sample: Second-hand Smoking and How It Affects Students

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1770 words
Carnegie Mellon University
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According to the center for disease control and Prevention (CDC), second-hand smoking contributes to almost 40,000 deaths among non-smokers. Individuals who are around smokers are at higher risks of getting heart disease or Lung cancer.

Despite all our knowledge around Second-hand smoking and its effects researchers point out that there is much that we dont know. Contemporary researchers are urging us to research the exact level of exposure that is at a higher risk of affecting individuals and the effects. They also urge that there should be more research to identify how we can best solve the problem.

Second-hand smoking and its effects

Cigarette smoking among college students has gained a lot of attention over the last few years. Researchers have had their concerned increased especially after it was reported that the number of students who were smokers had risen by 30% from 1990s to early 2000 (Gilpin, White, & Pierce, 2005). Studies have also shown that a teenager who is in college is a higher chance of smoking than his/her age mate who did not attend college (Wechsler, Rigotti, Gledhill-Hoyt, & Lee, 1998. Tobacco companies have also been able to target bars that are near campuses to recruit potential customers. The companies understand that transitioning to college can be stressful and they try to take advantage of these groups. The increase of smokers in the campus has meant that the number of second-hand smokers in colleges has gone up (Ling & Glantz, 2002). Although second-hand smoke is diluted, it still has the potential of causing cancer since it contains toxic chemicals. According to the center for disease and control, second-hand smoke is responsible for the deaths of nearly 3000 people annually (Center for disease control and prevention, 2014). The problem with second-hand smoking in colleges also stems from the fact that many colleges do not have a comprehensive policy that regulates smoking within the University.

Attitude of students towards second-hand smoking

According to the center for disease control and prevention, smoking is the single greatest avoidable cause of diseases and deaths. Despite having this information, approximately 30% of college students engage in this habit (Center for disease control and prevention, 2014). The high number of smokers have meant that non-smokers are a great risk of inhaling the toxic from cigarettes and being at risk of the same health hazards as the smokers. However, as studies have shown that although students may engage in smoking after Joining College, the number of smokers reduce as they settle into college life (Rigotti, 2003). The phenomena may be explained by the fact that students tent to re-examine their life choices as the college excitement reduces. The Universities can use this opportunity to put in place policies that will reduce smoking among students.

The term social smoker is often used by a student who smokes while at the company of others. According to this students, smoking is for pleasure and can be stopped at any time (Center for disease control and prevention, 2014). They also believe that since they dont smoke often, their habit is harmless. Unfortunately, upon graduation, these students find they have become addicted to nicotine and have turned out to be lifetime smokers. Male students who engage in this habit cite peer pressure while the majority of females claim they smoke because of stress.

Effects of Second-Hand smoking

Health effects

Second-hand smoking contrary to popular belief is just as harmful as direct smoking. A person who inhales nicotine indirectly is at the same risk as a direct smoker (Centre for disease control and prevention, 2009). The only difference between the two is that second-hand smoke is diluted and does not contain a lot of toxic. Although there are legislations that prohibit smoking in public places, people with low income are less likely to be covered by the smoke-free laws in their workplaces (Centre for disease control and prevention, 2013). There is no such thing as no risk-free levels of exposure since any contact with the smoke is a health hazard. The exposure to the toxin from cigarettes smoke has also been linked to a chronic respiratory disease.

An individual exposed to second-hand smoke can suffer from a variety of problems. People who are suffering from coronary heart disease are at a great risk of having the problem intensified if they are exposed to cigarettes smoke. Non-smokers who are exposed to cigarettes smoke are 25% more likely to develop heart disease than people who are not exposed. Studies have shown that exposure to second-hand smoke even for a short time adversely affects the cardiovascular system (Pirkle, Bernert, Caudill, Sosnoff, & Pechacek, 2006). Scientists have found that cigarette smoke causes blood platelets to become stickier than usual and have the potential of damaging blood vessels. Adults who are exposed to cigarettes smoke have also been found to have bad cholesterol that can have a severe effect on the heart. The center for disease control and prevention have estimated the number of people who died from heart disease to expose to SHS to be 70,000 in 2014.

People suffering from asthma are also at a risk of having the condition worsen if they are exposed to second-hand smoke. Cigarette smoking not only pollutes the environment but also causes discomfort especially to non-smokers. Individuals who reported having been exposed to second-hand smoke have been found to have urinary cotinine in their system. Additionally, exposure to cigarettes smoke has been found to cause lung cancer. The exposure does not have to be prolonged over a long period to cause cancer (Frazer et al., 2016). Researchers have found that even a brief exposure to second-hand smoke can set off the motion to cancer infection. However, studies have shown that those people who are exposed to cigarettes smoke for a long time are at greater risk of developing lung cancer.

Exposure to second-hand smoke has also been linked to other health problems such as mental problems and depression. However, more studies are being conducted to find out the actual relationship between second-hand smoke and mental health problems. Stroke is yet another effect of second-hand smoke. Individuals who have other heart problems or the elderly are at a high risk of getting a stroke if exposed to cigarettes smoke (Gilpin, White, & Pierce, 2005). There are also severe effects on unborn children when pregnant women are exposed to cigarettes smoke. Second-hand smoke has been found to cause miscarriages, premature births or at times giving birth to underweight children. Women should, therefore, be careful about Second-hand smoke since it not only affects the mother but the child too

Social and economic effects

Exposure to second-hand smoke causes nearly 30,000 premature death from heart diseases in the US. Such kinds of deaths can be prevented if smokers are responsible and avoid exposing other people. The people who die leave their fathers, children, sister friends in a psychological turmoil. Exposure to second-hand smoke by pregnant women has also been attributed to miscarriages or health problems to the infant. Although a child is supposed to bring joy, smokers cause anguish to families that experience miscarriage or have their children born with a health problem. Second-hand smoke has therefore been a source of pain and misery too many people Second-hand smoke has an adverse effect on the economy as a result of the premature deaths and the costs of treatment (Braverman, Hoogesteger, & Johnson, 2015). From 1995-2007, the productivity loss attributed to mortality caused by SHS was estimated to be $18 billion. Additionally, in 2001, the medical cost attributed to the individual who had suffered due to second-hand exposure was estimated to be $75billion.


The smoke-free policies should be effectively implemented to ensure institutions comply with the directive (Frazer, McHugh, Callinan, & Kelleher, 2015). Since research have shown that second-hand smoke put people at risk just like direct smoking, the government should step in and ensure all institution have strict policies that govern the smoking. Additionally, there is a need to educate people on the importance of clean environment and the effects of second-hand smoking. Just like in the government educated people on the importance of safety belts, the same approach can be used to educate people on how to be self-disciplined. Some people may be smoking around others due to ignorance and not with malice. The government should also pass laws that control how the companies advertise their products. Tobacco companies should be required to tell the public about the effects of smoking. Finally, parents and other citizens can also take initiative and stop people who are smoking around them. The police or laws enforcement agencies cannot be everywhere at the same time but through public support people can control their exposure to Second-hand smoke.



Braverman, M. T., Hoogesteger, L. A., & Johnson, J. A. (2015). Predictors of support among students, faculty and staff for a smoke-free university campus. Preventive Medicine, 71, 114-120. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2014.12.018

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Pirkle, J. L., Bernert, J. T., Caudill, S. P., Sosnoff, C. S., & Pechacek, T. F. (2006). Trends in the Exposure of Nonsmokers in the U.S. Population to Secondhand Smoke: 19882002. Environmental Health Perspectives, 114(6), 853-858. doi:10.1289/ehp.8850

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