Imagine entering a restaurant and looking around to notice the different people. There may be friends or a family with children out having dinner, several waitresses or waiters, cooks, and many other men and women (which may be pregnant). Now think about the air that they are breathing and how it may be affecting their health. If there are smokers in the restaurant, then the health of everyone in the restaurant is being affected.
Most people don’t think about the effects of second hand smoke as being much more than a nuance, but every year nearly 60,000 people die from the effects of second hand smoke, also know as environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) (Zarski, 4). Effects of ETS range from asthma and allergy irritants to lung cancer and low birth weight. People are now beginning to take a stand against smoking in public areas. Public schools, day care centers, and hospitals have already been declared as non-smoking areas; now the target is restaurants.
ETS is made up of 80% sidestream smoke, which is the smoke that comes from the smoldering end of a cigarette and 20% exhaled mainstream smoke, which is the smoke exhaled by the smoker (Hampshire, 1997, 2). The combination of these two types of smoke contains around 4,700 chemicals, which include 200 toxins and 40 carcinogens (cancer causing substances) (Rhoades, 2001, 1). ETS is classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a human Class A carcinogen, only 15 other pollutants have been given this classification (Hampshire, 1997, 5). Some of the
chemicals included in ETS are acetone (nail polish remover), tar, nicotine, formaldehyde (used for embalming), carbon monoxide (identical to car exhaust), ammonia (created in animal waste and used as a common household cleaner), benzene, pyridine, cadmium (found in batteries), radon, lead, nitrogen oxides, arsenic (a very harmful poison), and radioactive compounds (Health-touch, 1) (Rhoades, 2001, 1) (Zarski, 1997, 7). Only 25 percent of the nicotine in a cigarette is actually inhaled by the smoker the other 75 percent is put into the air. Carbon monoxide replaces the oxygen in the body, which reduces the amount of available oxygen in the body and hinders muscle action and mental function (Health-touch, 5).