The Right To Breath With Ease

1470 words - 6 pages

Secondhand smoke is a combination of the smoke produced at the end of a burning cigarette and that that a smoker exhales. It can easily be identified by its distinct odor and is retained in clothing, furniture, hair, and curtains. Secondhand smoke contains over 4000 chemicals with more than 50 of these known to cause cancer (Report of the Surgeon General). It contains numerous toxic metals including lead, cadmium, nickel, beryllium, radioactive polonium-210, and arsenic, found in many pesticides (Report of the Surgeon General). A child's body is still developing and highly susceptible to the harmful effects of their environments. “Exposure to the poisons in secondhand smoke puts them at risk of severe respiratory diseases and can hinder the growth of their lungs” (ANR), among numerous other diseases and death. “Secondhand smoke exposure in motor vehicles may be associated with nicotine dependence symptoms among young never-smokers” (ANR). Due to the harmful effects of secondhand smoke on children, smoking in cars should be banned when children are present.
Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas have all passed laws forbidding smokers from smoking inside a vehicle while a child in present (USA Today). Child abuse laws exist in every state. Child abuse is defined as “all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power” (World Health Organization). As a parent or caregiver of a child, there is no greater relationship of responsibility, trust, or power. To understand how exposure to secondhand smoke in cars can be harmful to a child, why banning it is necessary, and why some states are considering it child abuse, one must first look at the “potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development…” (World Health Organization).
The harmful effects of secondhand smoke on children are numerous. The effects can begin as early as in the womb. Reports have found that babies whose mothers were exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy had an increased risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS and low birth weight (ANR). In 2006, “researchers collected urine from 144 infants, aged 3 months to 12 months, who lived in homes where at least one parent was a smoker. Urine from nearly half of the infants contained detectable levels of NNAL, a chemical byproduct produced in the human body when it processes NNK, a cancer-causing chemical, or carcinogen, found only in tobacco” (Than, Ker). The levels of NNAL were found to be higher in infants than in older children. They attributed this to the fact that the infants were unable to move around and avoid the smoke. The same is true when a child of any age is strapped in a car with a smoker and is unable to move around to avoid the smoke. Researchers...

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