Secondhand smoke, also know as environmental
tobacco smoke (ETS), is the smoke given off by the
burning end of a cigarette, pipe or cigar and the
smoke exhaled from smokers. For people who inhale
it, which includes anyone who is exposed not merely
the person smoking, secondhand smoke can cause
illness or worsen existing health problems including
cancer, respiratory infections, and asthma. Secondhand smoke has been classified by the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a known
cause of cancer in humans (Group A carcinogen). This
means that there is no safe level of exposure to
What's actually in smoke?
There are over 7,000 chemicals in secondhand
tobacco smoke and over 69 of them are known to cause
The 2006 US Surgeon
General's report state that:
- Secondhand smoke causes premature
death and disease in children and in
adults who do not smoke.
- Children exposed to secondhand smoke
are at an increased risk of sudden
infant death syndrome (SIDS), acute
respiratory infections, ear problems,
and more severe asthma. Smoking by
parents causes respiratory symptoms and
slows lung growth in their children.
- Exposure of adults to secondhand
smoke has immediate adverse effects on
the cardiovascular system and causes
coronary heart disease and lung cancer.
- The scientific evidence indicates
that there is no risk-free level of
exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Many millions of Americans, both
children and adults, are still exposed
to secondhand smoke in their homes and
workplaces despite substantial progress
in tobacco control.
- Eliminating smoking in indoor spaces
fully protects nonsmokers from exposure
to secondhand smoke. Separating smokers
from nonsmokers, cleaning the air, and
ventilating buildings cannot eliminate
exposures of nonsmokers to secondhand
If you are a smoker:
- Smoke outside. Do not permit others
to smoke in your house, apartment or
- Wear “smoking clothes” that you take
off when you come inside after smoking.
It is also a good idea to leave the
jacket outside if possible.
- If you are with children, avoid
places that allow smoking.