Second hand smoke can affect your memory

man smoking

Don’t underestimate the harmful effects of smoking, even if it’s someone else actually smoking the cigarettes

The harmful effects of smoking hardly constitute news these days. The dangers of smoking are well documented and have been well known since the 1960s (though the tobacco companies did all they could to keep a lid on it). These days, we all know that smoking cigarettes is bad for your health.

The risks involved with being in the company of someone smoking cigarettes, however, are less well defined. Second-hand smoke has long been suspected as being harmful, but recent research backs up this suspicion.

The dangers of smoking

If you live with a smoker, or spend a lot of time with smokers (e.g. in a designated smoking area), you’re likely to be suffering damage to your memory, according to research at Northumbria University. Dr Tom Heffernan and Dr Terence O’Neil, researchers at the Collaboration for Drug and Alcohol Research Group at Northumbria University, compared a group of smokers with two groups of non-smokers – one group regularly exposed to second-hand smoke and the other group not.

Smoking cigarettes is bad for you –
even if someone else is doing it!

The group regularly exposed to second-hand smoke had been in the company of people smoking cigarettes for an average of 25 hours a week for around four and half years or more.

The researchers tested the groups on remembering to carry out a specific activity (time-based memory) and remembering planned activities (event-based memory). They found that the non-smokers who had been in the company of people smoking cigarettes forgot almost 20% more than those not exposed to the harmful effects of smoking. Both groups of non-smokers, however, performed far better than the smokers, who forgot 30% more than the non-smokers who were not exposed to second-hand smoke.

Dr Heffernan said:

“According to recent reports by the World Health Organisation, exposure to second-hand smoke can have serious consequences on the health of people who have never smoked themselves, but who are exposed to other people’s tobacco smoke. “Our findings suggest that the deficits associated with second-hand smoke exposure extend to everyday cognitive function. We hope our work will stimulate further research in the field in order to gain a better understanding of the links between exposure to second-hand smoke, health problems and everyday cognitive function.”

The risks of smoking

a cigarette stubbed out

Beware – even second-hand smoking is bad for you!

The risks of smoking are well known. It’s long been accepted that smoking is bad for your health, and, by implication, that it’s bad for your memory.

Now it appears that there’s evidence that even second-hand smoke can affect your memory. If there’s anyone smoking cigarettes in your house, maybe you should show them this page!


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