Smoking Around Children: Is it Child Abuse?.
Each day, millions of people across the country decide to spend time at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any time in between smoking one of the many kinds of tobacco products available. Whether it is while walking along the street, driving home from work, or watching television in their living room, no one can go through an entire day without noticing someone else smoking. It could be the smell of the smoke or the instinctive cough that causes a person to notice; nevertheless, smoking is an addictive habit chosen by many Americans.
Second-hand smoke is a prevalent problem in the United States. It comes from the end of the burning cigarette and is the smoke exhaled by the smoker. Containing over 4,000 chemicals, 43 of which cause cancer, second-hand smoke is responsible for a substantial amount of deaths due to lung disease and heart disease each year (American Lung Association, "Secondhand Smoke and Children" 1). The carbon monoxide from the smoke, as a result of its chemical nature, attaches itself to red blood cells about 100 times more easily than oxygen. This prevents the oxygen from getting into the blood stream (Sander 1). The deficiency of oxygen compromises circulation and causes significant injury to the lining of the arteries, the first step in the development of artherosclerosis (OMA 2).
Similarly, the chemicals also act as an irritant in the lungs, triggering coughing as pieces of the airways become loose. Once the pieces are loose, nerve endings below the surface become exposed. Repeated exposure to the irritants of second-hand smoke slows the healing process, compromising the health of the child. The continual contact with the .
smoke would be the same as treating a child's skinned knee by "pouring gasoline, motor oil, house paint, turpentine, or lighter fluid onto the wound" (Sander 1). Because second-hand smoke is harmful to children, parents who smoke within the child's environment are guilty of child abuse.