Second-Hand Smoke: The Global Burden is Now Official

by Dr. Nithin Jayan on  January 10, 2011 at 7:00 PM Health Watch
RSS Email Print This Page Comment bookmark
Font : A-A+

1.2 billion smokers in the world are exposing billions of non-smokers to second-hand smoke, a disease-causing indoor air pollutant. Second-hand smoke (SHS) is also known as environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) or passive smoke. Passive smoking is the inhalation of smoke from tobacco products used by others. Second-hand smoke was estimated to have caused 603 000 premature deaths and the loss of 10·9 million DALYs in 2004.

The harmful effects of second-hand smoke have been recorded since 1928. Ninety three percentage of the world's population still lives in countries not covered by fully smoke-free public health regulations.

Second-hand smoke or SHS is a mixture of 2 forms of smoke: side stream smoke and mainstream smoke. Side stream smoke is what comes from the end of a lighted cigarette, pipe, or cigar. Mainstream smoke is the smoke exhaled by a smoker. Side stream smoke is more dangerous since it has a higher concentration of cancer-causing agents (carcinogens). Children are more heavily exposed to SHS than any other age-group.

Though exposure to second-hand smoke is common in many countries, the true magnitude of the problem is poorly described. A study was performed to estimate the worldwide exposure to second-hand smoke and its burden of disease in children and adult non-smokers in 2004. Data from 192 countries were analysed. The indicators used to assess disease burden were death and disability-adjusted life year (DALY). DALY is the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death.The results of this retrospective analysis were published online in Lancet, the leading medical journal. The findings of the study were stunning. What follows is a list of the observations:

· Worldwide, 40% of children, 33% of male non-smokers, and 35% of female non-smokers were exposed to second-hand smoke in 2004

· The highest proportions exposed were estimated in Europe, the western Pacific, and region B of southeast Asia (Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand)
· 603 000 deaths were attributable to second-hand smoke in 2004. This was 1.0 % of worldwide mortality

· 47% of deaths from second-hand smoke occurred in women, 28% in children, and 26% in men

· Ischaemic heart disease, lower respiratory infections, asthma and lung cancer were the chief contributors of death. These fatal diseases were caused by SHS.

· The largest disease burdens were from lower respiratory infections in children younger than 5 years (5 939 000), ischaemic heart disease in adults (2 836 000), and asthma in adults (1 246 000) and children (651 000).

. Death and Disability-Adjusted Life Year or DALYs lost because of exposure to second-hand smoke amounted to 10·9 million

Second-hand smoke is closely related to active smoking rates where no robust and extensive smoke-free indoor policies exist. Women have the greatest burden of deaths of the total attributable to second-hand smoke, whereas children are most affected in terms of DALYs .

It is definitely clear that substantial health gains could be made by extending effective public health and clinical interventions to reduce passive smoking worldwide.


The Lancet, Volume 377, Issue 9760, Pages 139 - 146, 8 January 2011

Article: Worldwide burden of disease from exposure to second-hand smoke: a retrospective analysis of data from 192 countries

Source: Medindia

Post a Comment

Comments should be on the topic and should not be abusive. The editorial team reserves the right to review and moderate the comments posted on the site.
Notify me when reply is posted
I agree to the terms and conditions

News A - Z


News Search

Medindia Newsletters

Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Find a Doctor

Stay Connected

  • Available on the Android Market
  • Available on the App Store

News Category

News Archive