Smoke is bad, even outdoors

Last month, I hosted family for a week, many of whom are smokers. Because my husband died from small cell lung cancer – almost always associated with cigarette smoking – my home is (now) a smoke-free environment. As I sat on the porch where all the smokers congregated, I noticed I stank of cigarette smoke. So I began looking for research on what effects this might have even sitting outside.

According to Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, a new study, as reported by The Wall Street Journal, found nonsmokers who breathe secondhand smoke outdoors have elevated levels of tobacco-related chemicals in their body. The study included 28 college students who spent three evenings on patios outside a restaurant/bar where smoking was allowed and at a nonsmoking open-air site. The students sat near smokers at the restaurant/bar, and one of them counted the number of cigarettes lit every 10 minutes.

Researchers from the University of Georgia collected urine and saliva samples from the students before, immediately after and the morning after each three-hour visit. The study found the students’ levels of a nicotine byproduct known as cotinine were significantly higher in their saliva right after and the morning after the restaurant/bar visits. Levels of the chemical NNA, found in tobacco, were elevated in the students’ urine immediately after the bar/restaurant visits, and continued to be significantly higher the next morning.

Guess what they found in the students who spent their time at the nonsmoking open-air site? You guessed it – nothing. Not surprising though, is it? If you’re not around cigarette smokers, you don’t stink. If you are around them, and your clothes smell of cigarette smoke, it makes sense that you’re taking some of that into your body.

The Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties is committed to sharing information and resources for better mental health and the prevention of substance abuse. If you would like more information, please call the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties at (419) 448-0640 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. The board’s hotline is available 24/7 at (800) 826-1306.

Nancy Cochran,

executive director