BISMARCK - Week three of Indoor Air Quality month, October, is secondhand smoke awareness week and the North Dakota Department of Health said it's a great time to remind families about the negative impact that secondhand smoke can have on their loved one's health, according to Karalee Harper, director of the department's Division of Chronic Disease.
Secondhand smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke, includes the smoke that comes from the burning end of a cigarette or cigar and the smoke exhaled by smokers. It contains more than 4,000 chemicals, many of which cause cancer.
"There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke," said Harper. "Children are especially vulnerable. When children are exposed to secondhand smoke, they are at an increased risk of respiratory diseases, ear infections and severe asthma. When infants are in an environment with secondhand smoke, there is an increased possibility that they could die of sudden infant death syndrome."
According to Harper, if you smoke, the single most important thing you can do for your loved ones is to get help with quitting. Making the commitment to quit will provide your family with a healthier environment and a healthier future.
North Dakotans can receive free, confidential help with quitting tobacco through NDQuits, which offers telephone, computer and mobile services. Go to (www.ndhealth.gov/ndquits) for more information about NDQuits. You can also call 1-800-784-8669 to speak with an NDQuits counselor. Both services offer professional cessation counseling and free nicotine patches, gum or lozenges for those who qualify.
For more information about secondhand smoke, contact Harper at 328-4517 or 800-280-5512. For more information about Indoor Air Quality Month, contact Justin Otto, N.D. Department of Health, at 328-5188.
- Jill Hambek