Dear Editor,

Many pregnant women are exposed to secondhand smoke from friends and family members or the residue cigarettes left behind. These types of indirect contact with cigarettes can have detrimental effects on the health of pregnant mothers and their babies. There are over 4,000 chemicals present in secondhand smoke, many of which have been determined to cause cancer. Some of the health conditions associated with being exposed to secondhand smoke are miscarriage, low birth weight, early birth, learning or behavioral deficiencies in your child, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). SIDS occurs when an infant dies unexpectedly while sleeping.

Secondhand smoke can be especially harmful to a child’s health because their lungs are still developing. In fact, toxic secondhand smoke exposure can cause asthma in children who have previously not had any symptoms. Even if you don’t smoke, secondhand smoke can be closer than you think. Scientific studies show that smoke from a neighboring apartment can travel through ventilation systems, pipes, walls, open windows and doors, and electrical sockets. Therefore smoke travels through walls and your child may not even be safe playing one room over from a smoker, even one without a connected door or hallway. Not allowing smoking in indoor spaces is the only way to completely prevent exposure to secondhand smoke.

– Manuel Meza

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