Mom decides secondhand smoke isn't worth the risk

May 23, 2011

In recognition of National Air Quality Awareness week, Garfield, Eagle, Mesa, and Pitkin Counties, along with the City of Aspen and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have become partners to raise awareness about indoor and outdoor air quality issues, encouraging our communities to ‘share the air.’

Shanna Huser makes her husband take off his coat, wash his hands, and sometimes even brush his teeth, all just to hold their new six-week-old son. For 14 years, Shanna smoked nearly two packs of cigarettes a day. But once she became pregnant, she made the difficult decision to quit. Her husband is still a smoker, but does his part to keep their son safe, only smoking outside the home. It took Shanna four months to finally quit smoking. “I don’t know how new moms have time to smoke! I’m busy enough just taking care of my son – I don’t think I could find time for both. I just knew that I had to stop, that it would be the best thing I could do for him.”

Secondhand smoke is particularly dangerous – especially to children, who breathe in more air than adults for their size and weight. Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, more than 60 of which are known to cause cancer. Children who are exposed to it are more likely to develop ear infections, allergies, bronchitis, pneumonia and more severe asthma. It can also lead to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Shanna says that she never allows tobacco smoke in their home, and makes her husband step outside each and every time. “Opening a door or window to improve ventilation won’t remove chemicals from the air,” said Missy Ivy, Tobacco Educator with Garfield County Public Health. “Not even expensive air filtration systems can clear it.”

According to the EPA, chemicals in secondhand smoke can stay in furniture, clothes, and carpet for weeks or even years. Air circulates throughout a home; therefore smoking anywhere in a home is the same as smoking everywhere in a home.

For more information on how to improve the air quality in your own home, or to find resources on how to stop smoking, call Garfield County Public Health at 970-625-5200, or call the Colorado QuitLine at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.