While the majority of women in the country do not smoke, they make up the greatest number of victims of second-hand smoke, according to the Bureau of Health Promotion.
“Typically, women are exposed to second-hand smoke from their fathers during childhood, from their husbands after marriage and from their sons when they get older,” said Chiu Shu-ti (邱淑媞), director-general of the bureau.
While 96 percent of Taiwanese women do not smoke, 20.3 percent of females are exposed to second-hand smoke at home and in 85 percent of the cases, the source of the potential carcinogen is their fathers, Chiu said, citing a 2010 nationwide smoking survey.
The source of the second-hand smoke to which women are exposed differs with age, the poll found.
For those aged between 18 and 24 years, the main source of second-hand smoke tends to be their father; from 25 to 55, it is their husbands; and after 55, it becomes their sons, the poll showed.
Women are inhaling four or five times more second-hand smoke at home than in the workplace, Chiu said, adding that this amounts to “a form of domestic violence that puts women’s health at risk.”
Last month, a survey of 11-to-18-year-olds revealed that 20.4 percent of the group were exposed to second-hand smoke in the home and that their fathers were the source of the smoke in more than 70 percent of the cases.
The health bureau appealed to smokers to quit, not just for their own health, but also for the sake of their children.
Entertainer Hsu Feng (徐風), who starred in an anti-smoking campaign ad for the bureau, made a similar appeal.
Looking pale and drawn, Hsu said he suffers from cancer of the esophagus, mouth, lungs, trachea and pelvis as a result of smoking for more than 50 years.
Hsu said he started smoking in junior-high school and never stopped.
“My two younger brothers, who also smoked, died of nasopharyngeal and oral cancer,” he said.