Life is precious and sacred. We have lost so many of our loved ones—our grandmothers, grandfathers, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunties, and uncles—to early death and disease caused by commercial tobacco.
Nearly half of the Lakota people in South Dakota use commercial tobacco. More than double the rates of other populations.
- Cardiovascular and lung disease and cancer—all caused by commercial tobacco use—are the leading causes of death among American Indians.
- Commercial tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of death and disease among our people.
- Nearly 1,000 people die every year in South Dakota as a result of their own smoking.
- There are 18,000 kids under age 18 alive in South Dakota today who will die prematurely from smoking.
- The tobacco industry is spending millions to get our young people addicted to their products.
What is secondhand smoke?
Secondhand smoke is a combination of smoke from the burning end of the cigarette and the smoke breathed out by smokers when they exhale.
- When a person smokes near you, everyone breathes in secondhand smoke.
- When you breathe secondhand smoke, you are inhaling the exact same dangerous chemicals that the smoker does.
Some effects of secondhand smoke might be temporary, others are more permanent—and some are even deadly. The sacred Wakȟáŋyeža (children) and Wakáŋ (elders) are especially at risk for the harms of secondhand smoke.
- Causes cancer and heart disease in both smokers and non-smokers.
- A known risk factor for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)—it can kill our babies.
- Our children are more likely to have lung problems, ear infections, and severe asthma from being around secondhand smoke.
- It’s especially dangerous for pregnant women and elders to inhale the toxic chemicals in secondhand smoke because it weakens their immune systems.
There is NO safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.
What is thirdhand smoke?
Thirdhand smoke is the invisible combination of particles and gasses that cling to a smoker’s hair and clothing. This toxic chemical residue sticks to cushions on couches and chairs, carpeting, curtains, blankets, stuffed toys, walls, and every other surface in a house or car.
Even after secondhand smoke has completely cleared, these dangerous chemicals remain. The sticky residue contains cancer causing chemicals, heavy metals, carcinogens, and other harmful substances people (even pets) can get on their hands and clothes.
- When infants and babies breathe, crawl, play with, and put their mouths on contaminated surfaces, they ingest leftover toxins at a much higher rate than adults.
- Exposure can cause lung problems like wheezing and asthma.
- Exposure has been linked to slower healing, learning, and behavior problems.