Keep your risk factors to yourself, please

Keep your risk factors to yourself, please. (Photo Illustration by Korbl Klimecki)

Pregnancy can be a daunting time for any woman, especially when she’s trying to finish her college degree.  The concerns that already run through a pregnant woman’s mind are amplified when she comes in contact with secondhand smoke.

Studies from multiple journals state the negative effects secondhand smoke has on pregnant women.

In the medical journal Pediatrics, researchers discovered that the risk of stillbirth increased by 23 percent and the risk of birth defects increased by 13 percent in women who didn’t smoke but were exposed to secondhand smoke during their pregnancy.

“We anticipate that the effect becomes significant when the woman is exposed to more than 10 cigarettes a day, which isn’t a lot when you consider that some women are exposed to partner’s and other people’s smoking habits on a daily basis,” said study author Jo Leonardi-Bee, Ph.D. and Associate Professor in Medical Statistics at the University of Nottingham in England. “However, we need more evidence to be able to say with certainty what the true levels are.”

Leonardi-Bee’s research also indicates that women exposed to secondhand smoke experience rates of stillbirths or birth defects at nearly the same rate as pregnant women who choose to smoke.

Women who smoked during pregnancy had a 20-34 percent chance of having a stillborn and a 10-34 percent chance of giving birth to a baby with a birth defect.

ARC has numerous pregnant women on campus who are concerned with the health risks linked to the secondhand smoke lingering in breezeways and near classroom entrances.

“Every time I walk out of Davies hall a wave of tobacco smoke consumes my breath,” said ARC student and expecting mother Samantha Artria. “I get angry and I give the person an evil glare, because even though they have the freedom to smoke, I have the right to not be subjected to other people’s smoke and I’m going to do my best to prevent my daughter from being exposed.”

I’m not suggesting we turn our campus into a smoke-free environment, but smokers have a responsibility to protect others from exposure to secondhand smoke.

Next time you want to light a cigarette, please do it in an open area, not in one of the enclosed hallways in the Liberal Arts building. And please don’t stand right next to Davies Hall with a lit cigarette. You have the right to smoke, but nonsmokers shouldn’t be subjected to dangerous secondhand smoke because of your inconsideration.

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