Smoking greatly increases the risk of developing lung cancer, emphysema, and heart disease. Those with a higher risk include fetuses and newborns, children and people with asthma or other respiratory conditions. Even a non-smoker who lives with a smoker doubles their risk of developing lung cancer. See Related Article.
Pregnant women exposed to ETS have an increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight or stillbirth.
Children exposed to ETS experience a number of health problems. They have a slower rate of growth in lung function as the lung matures which increases the risk of developing a lung disease down the road. According to the Lung Association, in the first two years of life, children of parents who smoke at home have a much higher rate of lung disease such as bronchitis, asthma and pneumonia.
Asthmatics or those with other respiratory conditions will notice that ETS worsens their symptoms, such as wheezing and shortness of breath, which in turns means more medication use and more emergency room visits.