Your smoking can affect your child’s behavior throughout their life. Most teenagers who smoke, for example, have parents who smoke. Cigarette smoking is a major cause of severe lung diseases like chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and lung cancer. (Marijuana and cocaine also cause severe lung disease)
We strongly recommend you stop smoking completely. If you feel you cannot stop NOW, we ask that you do not smoke or allow smoking in your child’s home or in the car. Smoking in a separate room, keeping the windows open, or using an air cleaner are not acceptable choices.
Smoking and Asthma
Smoke is an irritant to your child’s lungs. It can set off spasms in the air passages of the lungs and cause episodes of coughing and wheezing.
Even if smoke does not cause an asthma episode in your child, breathing second-hand smoke can affect the defenses of the lungs. Tobacco smoke contains over 4000 chemicals, most of which are toxic and carcinogenic. Recent studies have suggested that children of smokers are twice as likely to develop asthma as the children of nonsmokers, and that even apparently healthy babies born to women who smoked during pregnancy have abnormally narrowed airways, which may predispose them to asthma and other respiratory disorders. Second-hand smoke is smoke in the air from others who smoke. Second-hand smoke steps up the heartbeat, increases the blood pressure, and robs the body of the oxygen it needs. Some studies show that colds, ear infections, and breathing problems are twice as common among young children who breathe smoke at home compared with those in smoke-free homes.
Smoking and Cystic Fibrosis
Everybody knows that cigarette smoke (or cigar…or pipe tobacco) is bad for the lungs. People without CF can resist the damage from smoking better than people with CF. That’s because when the bad stuff from smoke gets stuck in the mucus inside the lungs, the natural cleaning system in healthy lungs sweeps out the mucus and the bad stuff with it. Once it gets swept up to the throat, healthy people either swallow it or cough it out.
In a person with CF, the natural cleaning system doesn’t work. The mucus in a CF lung is thick and sticky and the “mucociliary elevator” that would normally carry mucus up and out, can’t move that thick and sticky stuff. This means that when the junk in smoke gets stuck in the mucus of a CF lung, the only way it gets out is with that daily airway clearance we are always asking you to do. Airway clearance techniques like CPT, vest therapy, flutter or acapella work well but are far from the perfection of the natural clearance of a healthy lung. In other words, you can’t just knock all the smoke right back out…only some of it.
It’s not just a matter of keeping the lungs clean. People who breathe in smoke have more inflammation in their lungs and have a harder time fighting lung infections. These are both problems for someone with CF and smoke makes that worse. In other words, breathing tobacco smoke will make their disease worse.
All this is to say, it’s a really, really bad idea to smoke if you have CF and a really bad idea to smoke around a person with CF.
- NO ONE should smoke in the house where someone with CF lives. A smoking room doesn’t solve the problem since smoke floats in the air and sticks to every surface. It’s like trying to have a peeing area in a swimming pool!
- NO ONE should smoke in the car a person with CF rides in. An open window doesn’t prevent smoke exposure. It still circulates through the air in the car.
- If you are a parent who smokes, please smoke outside away from the house. It’s important that you do this for your child.