Secondhand Smoking Just as Dangerous

The days of lighting up in College Station may be numbered. The city is considering a ban on smoking in bars, restaurants and workplaces. Proponents of the change say their main concern is secondhand smoke.

Almost everyone knows that smoking is hazardous to your health, but now experts say even being near someone smoking is just as dangerous, if not more.

"The vast majority of exposure happens in the workplace or home and per the CDC's website, there is no risk-free amount of exposure. One exposure, they say is dangerous," said Dr. Garth Morgan, a family practice physician in College Station.

In fact, 65,000 deaths are blamed on secondhand smoke every year, causing not just cancer, but bronchitis, pneumonia, heart attack and stroke.

And it's even worse for children.

Morgan says nearly 300,000 known cases of bronchitis and pneumonia are caused in children under 18 months of age due to secondhand exposure.

And new studies indicate another smoking hazard is looming.

Third hand smoke refers to tobacco particles that linger, long after the smoke has cleared.

"The particles settle on the furniture, on the drapes, on the floor. Someone who comes in later, such as a baby crawling on the floor, they've shown these babies have exposure to the tobacco chemical," explains Morgan.

But before people get fired up about third hand smoke, the dust must first settle over the public smoking debate.

"If you ban those practices where other people can be exposed to them, you're less likely to have unnecessary disease," says Morgan.

The College Station City Council will vote on the proposed smoking changes January 22, following a public hearing.

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