Isn't Incense 2nd-Hand Smoke?

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12pups

Preferred Member
Feb 9, 2014
1,063
1
Minnesota
I know how well this subject goes over with smokers -- the dangers of second hand smoke.
So I'm at a relative's house, who didn't know I smoke a pipe or smoke at all. And she's going on about the dangers of second hand smoke, how people around the smoker have it worse than the smoker him-/herself does (I've never figured that one out. Apparently smokers, unlike nonsmokers, don't breathe).
All the time I'm noticing the thin column of dense smoke rising from an incense holder on her entertainment center. She loves those long stick incense things. There is the box of them next to the holder. There is a wicker basket on one of the shelves that is loaded with many boxes and long plastic ziplocs with many more. It occurs to me she almost always has incense going.
I don't like it, but I've never said anything. The scents are too strong, cloying.
But then I interrupted her to ask, "So isn't the incense bad for you, too? Aren't you always breathing *that* smoke? Doesn't it cling to your walls and furniture? What happens to your lungs when you breathe *that* smoke in?"
She laughed out loud at me. Incense isn't bad for you. Why would they sell it if it were bad for you?
So I was wondering, has anyone ever studied health risks associated with incense smoke? (Not that I want the government to start regulating more stuff. Just seems fair to call smoke, smoke).
Oh geez. Of course they have. So here's one argument where I have ammunition to shoot back:
N Carolina study finds incense harmful
Cancer risk associated with incense
Squamous cell cancers and incense

 

anglesey

Senior Member
Jan 15, 2014
383
0
Yes but they smell nice so it's okay. I've often wondered this, my snooker club burns incense in the staircase to cover the smell of fags, and the students in my student house burn incense to cover the smell of ganje (as if i wont notice). If I went round with a roll of lit newspaper then people'd have a do. You got an interesting point.

 

fadingdaylight

Preferred Member
Jan 8, 2013
1,194
0
Lol. Smoke, from anything, is bad for you. They sell charcoal too, but that doesn't make it safe to light it up and breathe the smoke. Northernneil made the great point about cars, they sell cars, but that doesn't make the fumes safe to breathe.
Everyone loves a good campfire, doesn't make it safe to huff the smoke. Lol. Tobacco takes all the blame because it is recreational. People smoke it commonly, and they like it. Smoking crack is far worse, and the people smoking bath salts (which are sold as a safe product) are living proof that safe products can still kill you.
When my wife found out she was pregnant with our first child, we stopped smoking in the house. We also stopped burning incense in the house. Just sayin...

 

12pups

Preferred Member
Feb 9, 2014
1,063
1
Minnesota
It's so crazy. That's what got her going: she couldn't stand that my brother and his wife smoke nonstop in their house. She won't visit them because of it. But in her own house, it's just incense.
LOL

 

rmbittner

Preferred Member
Dec 12, 2012
2,099
0
"Why would they sell it if it were bad for you?"
This is simply ignorant. By this argument, she should have no problem whatsoever with tobacco smoke. Because, um, tobacco also is available for purchase, with nothing more than an I.D. In fact, it's easier to buy tobacco than an over-the-counter antihistamine.
Bob

 

fadingdaylight

Preferred Member
Jan 8, 2013
1,194
0
Smoke is smoke. Either way it's the death fumes of something burning.
Some just taste better than others...

 

ruger414

Member
Mar 25, 2014
198
0
United States
I grew up with incense burning in the house on a daily basis and it never hurt me. A lot of people forget that we're all going to die eventually anyways. I've always found incense to be calming. It might be because I've just mentally associated it with Buddhism and meditating, but its the same as smoking a pipe. If you believe it helps, then it will probably help. There's a psychology word for this but I can't remember it at the moment...

 

fadingdaylight

Preferred Member
Jan 8, 2013
1,194
0
Ruger, your absolutely right. The whole point of the incense in meditation is to create mental association. If you continue to follow the same ritual, the smell alone will start to trigger the mental state before you even sit down. It is, essentially, a method of rigging or tricking your brain. And it is very effective.

 

anglesey

Senior Member
Jan 15, 2014
383
0
I grew up with incense burning in the house on a daily basis and it never hurt me. A lot of people forget that we're all going to die eventually anyways. I've always found incense to be calming. It might be because I've just mentally associated it with Buddhism and meditating, but its the same as smoking a pipe. If you believe it helps, then it will probably help. There's a psychology word for this but I can't remember it at the moment..
You mean like a placebo?

 

ruger414

Member
Mar 25, 2014
198
0
United States
Yes! Exactly like a placebo!
In my opinion, smoking a pipe is almost exactly the same as burning incense. We do it to relax and slow down our days. For me, at least, it leads to the same end result: a state of relaxation, spiritual centering, and deep contemplation.
On a side note, my parents used to burn hand-rolled sage bunches in the house to purge it of evil spirits...

 

12pups

Preferred Member
Feb 9, 2014
1,063
1
Minnesota
Ruger -- exactly!
In fact, my "tobacco moment" is more calming to me than her incense is to her, the way she uses it, anyway. To me, she burns incense the way some people use their TVs. You know, how they're more just background noise than something they're watching.
Her way of using incense is "background nose." Pipes are more deliberate, I think. At least the way I'm smoking them. A transcendental accessory.
Indian sweet grass! Love that smell. My wife's favorite, as well.

 

numbersix

Preferred Member
Jul 27, 2012
5,452
0
I recall reading many years ago that smoke from woodstoves (that fill the air in small communities for ex.) can cause lung problems and possibly cancer. I think smoke in any form has the potential to be harmful.
At the same time, IMHO the issue with second hand smoke is blown out of proportion. Certainly if you subject a small child to a room full of smoke day in, day out, there's real potential for harm.
But in most cases, catching a whiff of pipe smoke is no more harmful than sitting around a campfire. Maybe not as healthy as pure air - but also not as harmful as many would like to make out.
I find that some people often prefer to keep ideas as simple as possible. Hence if something has the potential to be harmful - it is just easier to condemn it in its entirety rather than confronting the many variables at hand (politicians, for ex., excel at taking complex situations and reducing them to their simplest forms.)

 

dottiewarden

Preferred Member
Mar 25, 2014
3,051
0
Toronto
Excellent point Pups. The overpowering smell of many types of incense is nausiating, but nobody ever talks about the dangers of breathing in the fumes produced while burning it.
I know smoking a pipe cannot be considered a healthy practice in terms of physical health, but in terms of mental health it is quite medicinal. The very fact that I have to set aside 45 minutes to a full hour just to sit and enjoy a bowl while I reflect on the beauty of life itself makes it a very meditative practice. A major problem with urban life today is everything is rush, rush, rush. We no longer value reflection and appreciation of simply being. From my perspective pipe smoking is a rather sacred practice, quite ritualistic really. For most of us pipe smokers, our pipes and tobacco are not nicotine delivery systems, rather a method of living in the moment, taking time to be with oneself. I'm sure most of us would still smoke even if tobacco was not addictive and chalked full of nicotine.
In fact pipe smoke is my favorite incense. If we want to start talking about harmful products in our urban or rural environments pipe tobacco smoke would not even make the list.
Burn on incense lovers. Smoke on pipers.

 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,345
21
ruger: You won't know if the carcinogens from the incense hurt you until the harm is large enough to see on the MRI or you start to become debilitated in some way. As I have observed before, absolutely nothing positive is going to happen when you suck poisons into your body. And, that is true no matter the religion you subscribe to or otherwise try to form a rational reason for doing so. The amount of damage incurred probably has more to do with your genetic make-up than your beliefs.
Instead of finding a rationale, accept the risk and enjoy your pipe. Just don't lie to yourself with regard to possible damage you are inflicting on your person.
On topic: Most "stuff" being incinerated emits carcinogens.
pups: you might ask your kin to check out the "cleaning products" aisle at the store. More poisons there than you can shake a broom-stick at, and they are all for sale without age restrictions.

 

anglesey

Senior Member
Jan 15, 2014
383
0
+2 numbersix.


I grew up in the far distance of that picture, and used to live in one of the houses in the foreground. I imagine there'll be a major problem with smog related illnesses in the future. All the buildings and everything were black with the soot. It was like something out of a dickens novel.
In my opinion incense is no better or worse than this.

 

rayje589

Senior Member
Nov 28, 2012
359
0
There are two types of house's I don't go into: heavy cigarette smokers and heavy incense burners. Can't stand the smell of either of them. However, I never really thought of the potential to be harmful in incense.

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
25,899
76
Any scent jacked up too much gets me queasy, whether it involves combustion or not. Some of the

chemically synthesized scents sold at cosmetics counters and applied to advertising samples in

magazines seem almost like chemical warfare. Unfortunately, a sizable fraction of the population

ages out of, or is born without, much of a sense of smell and has to fumigate the world in order

to feel that they have on a nice little spritz of cologne.
I don't think incense has ever kept the devout from morning mass or services in other religions using

incense. The Roman Catholics I grew up with jokingly referred to mass as "smells and bells." Growing

up in Chicago, a Protestant kid becomes an honorary Catholic by osmosis. I liked Pope John I because

he allowed my friends not to think of me as a pagan, although I was beginning to like the idea, in a way.

The Community Church Pagans sounded like a motorcycle gang.

 

ruger414

Member
Mar 25, 2014
198
0
United States
Warren: I agree with you completely. I've accepted the risk from both tobacco and incense. Like I said in my first post, we're all going to die from something. I'd rather do things I enjoy than live in a bubble clawing for just a few extra years. Just my opinion

 

apatim

Senior Member
Feb 17, 2014
497
0
Jacksonville, FL
Most of us baby boomers grew up on second hand smoke. It was in the homes in which we lived and visited; it was in the cars, buses, trains and planes; it filled every restaurant we visited and was even ever-present in the boys bathroom at school in Jr. High and Sr. High. It is a wonder there are any of us left in the world to tell the tales... we should all be dead by now.
I remember all my dad's aunts and uncles as chain smokers. These were my great aunts and uncles and I am now 58 years old. Most of them lived into their 70's and 80's.
I'm not suggesting that there aren't health risks from smoking or from breathing second hand smoke but I truly believe the risks are greatly exaggerated; not to mention, I'd much prefer living a happy life the way I want to live it than to live according to the dictates of politicians, medical doctors or even family and friends. Live and let live!
I'm fully convinced that I'm gonna die whether I enjoy a pipe or not. ;-)