How to smoke smart A.K.A how not to leave any evidence behind?

3 min read

Have you ever been to someone’s house, as soon as you enter, it hits you! The smell… It’s very distinct and it is unbearable. The house, their clothes, their hair, even their pets reek of cigarette smell; and the most amusing thing is that they can’t smell it. They literally and truly just can not.

To all my smoker friends, here is the deal, no matter how much gum you chew on or how many cans of deodorant you empty onto  yourself, the smell of cigarette seep through your skin, your hair, and your clothes!

There is a reason for this phenomenon. It is called Third Hand Smoke (THS). Third-hand smoke consists of the tobacco residue from cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products that is left behind after smoking and builds up on surfaces (furniture, clothes, hair, skin, carpet, walls etc).

“So, it smells! Big deal?”

It isn’t just an offensive smell. Tobacco smoke is a mix of toxic gases and carcinogenic metals like arsenic, lead, and cyanide! And please do not tell me that you have not heard that it contains >7000 chemicals and ~70 of them are known to cause cancer… This statistics has been bombarded on us so much so that you would think that people will care, right? But the truth is that they don’t seem to care for graphic images and health warnings on the cigarette pack.

👈 This is not working, not in India at least!

Yes, third-hand smoke, the toxic microparticles that linger around long after the smoke has dissipated is known to have serious health effects. Nicotine in tobacco smoke reacts with the nitrous acid in the air to form carcinogenic Tobacco-Specific Nitrosamines (TSN) which is a byproduct of tobacco smoke and is known to be more harmful than the smoke itself! These carcinogens linger around, mixes with dust, settles on the furniture, are absorbed back in the air that we breathe. They are difficult to remove with traditional cleaning methods as their traces cannot be removed with soap.

Who is most susceptible to the Third-Hand Smoke?

👆These guys

Little ones are typically more at risk. Almost 40% more at risk of being exposed to THS, because-

  • Kids spend relatively more time indoors. So if your house or car is full of smoke residues, your kids are breathing in that air. Is it acceptable or not, you decide!
  • Kids, especially toddlers as crawling and lying around, chances of them ingesting the residual dust is very very high (and remember, the water-soap cleaning method is totally ineffective here so cleaning the floor is of very little use!)
  • little ones put things in mouth, thus, even more chance of ingesting THS dust sitting on the surfaces.
  • Children breathe more air per pound than adults do, means breathing in more air full of the third-hand smoke, which means breathing more carcinogens!
  • Their lungs and immune system are not fully developed yet. They are not ready to handle the load of toxins that they are being introduced to!
  • If a smoker picks up a baby, the baby does come in contact with residual toxins from THS on the smoker’s clothes, skin, and hair!

Who else is susceptible?

👆 Her

Her unborn baby is more susceptible to being born with underdeveloped lungs (developing asthma earlier in life), low birth weight and birth defects because her husband smokes inside their car and around the house only when she is not there. He thinks it is OK because at least he is shielding her from the second-hand smoke this way!

And lastly but importantly,

👆 These guys

Cats and Dogs living in a smoking household are 3 times more susceptible to developing cancer-related complications!

Well now now… the article was about smoking smart and not leaving any traces of crime behind, right? Well, there is no way of doing that! Unless you are getting dressed up in a plastic clad isolation gown, cover your hair with plastic cap, put hand gloves on and are smoking literally in the middle of the Great Saharan Desert; there will always be some residue left on you, your clothes, your surroundings, and no way of minimizing the damage that it will later cause to someone else!

I know the title is misleading and the tone of the article is antagonizing, but the subject matter is of utmost importance here…

It’s not just about you anymore! The places you live, travel, clothes that you wear, and the people that you embraced, you leave a little bit of yourself behind… with them… that’s your trace, your mark, and you want that mark to be your presence, your memories and not some toxic dust!

“Live Freely — Live Fully — Live Mindfully”

(P.S: Happy World No Tobacco Day in advance, let’s make it No Tobacco Forever!)

Soniya Nikam, MS, RD.

Soniya Nikam, MS, RD.

She is a Registered Dietitian who does not believe in dieting; She has a Master's Degree in Nutrition but she is not your "I know it all Nutrition Guru!"; She loves food but loves talking about food even more. Her articles are a direct reflection of her personal quest where nutrition science meets real life! Oh, and she is owned by a 3 m.o. naughty kitten :)

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