Agency: Secondhand Smoke Hotline A Success
The Oklahoma Department of Health is reporting a high public response rate during the first month of its statewide toll-free hotline for information on secondhand tobacco smoke.
During its first month in operation, the hotline received more than 3000 calls, the department said.
The hotline, 1 (866) ONLY-AIR, was launched on May 28 to help inform the public about the health hazards posed by secondhand smoke.
All callers receive an information packet about secondhand smoke, its effects, current laws, and how exposure can be reduced through smoke-free policies.
"There is clearly a lot of interest in reducing exposure to secondhand smoke in public places and workplaces," said Doug Matheny, director of the Office of Tobacco Use Prevention at the state health department. "Most callers complain of health conditions caused by or made worse by involuntary exposure to secondhand smoke, either to themselves or a family member."
Exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke causes an estimated 750 deaths in Oklahoma every year -- about the same number as caused by motor vehicle accidents, the agency said.
At least 40 chemicals in secondhand smoke have been shown to cause cancer. Exposure also places extra stress on the heart and reduces the body's ability to take in and use oxygen.
For asthma sufferers, secondhand smoke can cause immediate respiratory danger by triggering attacks.
Children's lungs are smaller and their immune systems are less developed, making them more likely to develop respiratory illnesses and ear infections from secondhand smoke.