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March 13, 2024

The Hidden Impact: How Smoking Affects Everyone, Even Non-Consumers

By Raze Ambassador, Ava Johnson

Smoking not only harms the individual lighting up a cigarette but also has far-reaching consequences that impact everyone around them. From secondhand smoke exposure to the environmental effects of cigarette waste, the implications of smoking stretch beyond just the smoker themselves. Many economic issues also arise from the smoking rate around the world. According to The American Lung Association, “Secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard causing more than 41,000 deaths per year,” (American Lung Association). Effects of smoking can be seen in all our peers, whether you are an adult or in your ripe adolescence and during this blog post, you will hear stories from people in my school’s Raze crew.

Secondhand Smoke: A Silent Threat

Breathing in secondhand smoke involuntarily exposes non-smokers to over 7,000 chemicals, many of which you cannot even pronounce. This passive inhalation can lead to various health issues such as respiratory infections, lung cancer, and cardiovascular diseases. Non-smokers, including children and pregnant women, are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of secondhand smoke. “Second-hand smoke can even affect the skin. Smoke enhances the processes of collagen destroying enzymes (MMPs) which can age the skin and wrinkling can occur,” (Rouleau). The most common health effects are coughing, headaches, and the development of an addiction to tobacco.

Environmental Pollution: Beyond the Filter

The environmental impact of smoking goes beyond just the act of lighting a cigarette. Cigarette butts, one of the most littered items globally, contain harmful chemicals that can leach into soil and water, posing a threat to wildlife and ecosystems. The sheer volume of cigarette waste further worsens the pollution problem, impacting non-smokers who have no connection to the tobacco industry. In an article published by Tobacco Free Life, “Each year, 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are disposed of,” (Tobacco free life). Also, in this article it states that, for every 15 packs of cigarettes (the average sold in around 3 hours every day), one tree is cut down (Tobacco free life).

Social and Economic Ramifications

Smoking-related healthcare costs and lost productivity affect society, placing a burden on healthcare systems and economies. Non-smokers indirectly bear these costs through increased insurance premiums and taxes to offset the expenses associated with treating smoking-related illnesses. Smoking is the number one cause of preventable deaths per year, and it makes huge impacts on our society. According to The American Lung Association, “Smoking-related illness in the U.S. costs more than $600 billion a year, including over $241 billion in direct medical care for adults and $184 billion in lost productivity,” (Association). The use of healthcare for these adults and teens could be used in many other ways that revolve around healthcare, like diseases that are not acurable or not able to be prevented.

Raze Crew Stories

I asked around my school’s Raze crew how they have been affected by tobacco in their lives. Out of respect for them and their families, I will not include names, and they will remain anonymous. Everyone has agreed to share their stories, and this will include multiple stories, from different students. One student said, “My grandpa’s siblings both passed of lung cancer, which was caused by smoking, and now I am worried my grandpa will follow the same path,” She also says, “They grew up on a tobacco farm and were never aware of the dangers that could arise from smoking.” Another member revealed, “I could walk into my mom’s house and come out not even ten minutes later reeking of smoke, and it would embarrass me to have friends come over since the house was always foggy,” she also says, “I have been to the doctor multiple times for a sore throat that I got after being at her house for a day.” The last student said, “My grandpa smokes and used to forget they were in his hand, so when he played with me, he would end up burning me and I still have some of the marks.”


The effects of smoking extend far beyond the individual smoker, impacting the health, environment, and economy in ways that touch the lives of non-consumers. Smoking can take away from availability to receive healthcare for unpreventable diseases. Second-hand smoke can cause many health issues like lung disease, for people who do not even smoke. As you can see from personal stories, the use of tobacco changes many peoples’ lives and results in many bad memories. By raising awareness about these hidden impacts, we can work towards creating a healthier, cleaner, and more sustainable world for everyone.

Citations: American Lung Association. “Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke | American Lung Association.” Www.lung.org, 13 July 2020, www.lung.org/quit-smoking/smoking-facts/health-effects/secondhand-smoke.

Association, American Lung. “Health Effects of Smoking and Tobacco Products.” Www.lung.org, 2018, www.lung.org/quit-smoking/smoking-facts/health-effects.

Rouleau, Renée. “Does Secondhand Smoke Cause Damage to My Skin?” Expert Skin Advice from Renee Rouleau, 11 Apr. 2012, blog.reneerouleau.com/does-secondhand-smoke-cause-damage-to-my-skin/.

Tobacco free life. “Environmental Impact of Smoking and Tobacco Use.” Tobacco-Free Life, 2016, tobaccofreelife.org/why-quit-smoking/smoking-effects/smoking-environmental-risks/.

The Hidden Impact: How Smoking Affects Everyone, Even Non-Consumers

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