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Third Hand Smoke And Mirrors

Living in a part of the world that has always been (perhaps even a bit too) cavalier towards smokers and smoking, I have accumulated enough examples for a respectable study on the effects of first, second as well as the most in vogue, trendiest and all the rage these days, third hand smoke. Any takers?

Give me fourth and fifth hand smoke any time and I assure you there'll be enough for a representative sample in my life archives for that as well. That's how we in the Balkans roll.

Third Hand Smoke

This is one of stupider fearmongering pieces in what seems to be a cutthroat competition, as it always is  when anti-smoking movement is concerned. When you google third hand smoke, this jumps at you as the first result. Of course, the picture shows something else: second hand smoke of the most glaring kind, something that even in my neck of woods people started to frown upon half a century ago.  

Let's get this out of the way first

My childhood days were filled with second and third hand smoke.  My parents were heavy smokers without much awareness of harmful effects their habit might bring to their kids. I was a smoker for almost 30 years .There was a time back in the mid eighties when three of us in the house smoked like chimneys and my poor brother couldn't open enough windows to breathe. 

Everywhere my generation went there was some kind of  smoke: if second hand wasn't ominously lingering around, then at least the now fashionable third was glued to the walls and waiting surreptitiously in the carpets and upholstery, ready to jump anyone who entered. 

The conclusion I've come to, without any study to confirm it,  is that I should have been dead by now. My entire generation should have kicked the bucket so hard it would have echoed throughout the world. Since we haven't, actually most of us 50 somethings do not have any smoking related diseases at all, here's another two part conclusion I've come to.

1. First hand smoke does kill

The ballpark of 10 years less we've all heard of is basically correct. Smokers do tend to live about a decade shorter. They do tend to develop smoking related diseases and have troubles breathing in their senior years. The only ones spared from such fate are genetic lottery winners and I do know some of them as well.  

And that's it, as far as any meaningful harmful effects are concerned. You'll notice these are measurable, hence they were proven long ago. But even if they weren't , you would have noticed them yourself, unless you live under a rock and are an island. 

2. Everything else is more or less a raging exaggeration

I happen to  know so many non-smokers exposed to the second, third, and any other hand smoke that may be invented in the near future, who are so blisfully unaffected by it that it would make all those anti-smoking heads in the West spin.

The only situation non-smokers could be harmed is working in poorly ventilated smoke filled spaces. Also, even 50 years ago, smokers here were generally smart enough not to smoke in kids rooms. And my clueless mother cut down on cigarettes as much as she could while pregnant.

Now before you start believing  the Balkan peninsula breeds an entire species of Chuck Norrises, let me assure you, we don't.

We fall like flies from all kinds of cardiovascular and cancer crap you all do.

We get injured and die in car accidents even more than you do, because we have a bit crappier cars on average.

There's nothing special  about us except maybe that we eat somewhat better. We do more of our own cooking. And some of us smoke while cooking. That may count as three and a half hand smoke, so I better stop right here before giving any ideas to the anti smoking cult of the West.

It's just that I can't for the life of me connect the second and third hand smoke with cancer because it simply doesn't add up. And because we are exposed to hundreds of things our grandparents weren't or were not to such an extent. From the materials our houses were built with, through all those car exhaust fumes and industrial pollution, all the way to uranium in bombs thrown at us during the last war.

Having said all this, perhaps Chuck and I are related somehow.

Dangerous connections

While I was trying to find anything that could make me change my mind, all I stumbled upon were some fear mongering pieces.

Below are two characteristic quotes. The first (from Cleveland Clinic) is typical for all those efforts by scientific ideologues that love to start with big words, like carcinogenic and finish with not completely clear or more research is needed

third hand smoke

If there was really any such dangerous connection, they would be easily able to prove it. Some non-smokers are vastly more exposed to it than others. For instance - children in heavy smokers' families who grew up to be non smokers,  and who were sheltered from the second hand smoke, but could not possibly be protected from the third.

They were certainly significantly more exposed to it than some random non-smoker from non-smoking family who occasionally happens to venture into a venue with all those horrific residues that all these studies are screaming about.

So there is a distinct group of people that could have been studied and if third hand smoke really meant anything, there would have been clearly more sick people in that group than in general population or in a group raised in non-smoking environment.

The following quote is typical for people who never make any effort to understand anything when it's easier to fall for the buzzwords. In their world it's all smoke so it's all equal. Even if  the scientist from the first quote says nothing has been proven, our genius here is quite comfortable in his claim that being exposed to third hand smoke equals smoking a cigarette.

Again, Google visitors are showered with this crap on the very first page. This link leads to a page with many other links some of which are dead. Probably from the exposure to the third hand smoke baloney.  

If you look at all three examples I've given in this article, you'll notice a common theme - first you see a horrific picture or read some very strong claims, then you see the picture has nothing to do with what the article says and the claim can not be proven or confirmed in any way. 

What exactly is the objective here? Forbidding grandparents to see their grandchildren if one of the grannies is a smoker because there are some nasty residues in their clothes that could harm the infant? Making everyone paranoid about going anywhere? Is there a competition going on in who's gonna be the stupidest on the Internet? Or this huge anti-smoking hydra just has to somehow justify its behemoth existence and gargantuan funding.

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Written by Ljubica, @Switchtoecig, ex teacher, translator, passionate reader, ex smoker and now vaper, e-cig reviewer and vaping advocate.

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