|Posted by Ed Kalas on September 12, 2012 at 4:00 PM|
Smoking and How To Quit
• What is secondhand smoke?
• Dangers of secondhand smoke
• Secondhand smoke exposure in the workplace
• How secondhand smoke affects babies and children
• Tips to avoid secondhand smoke
• More information on secondhand smoke
What is secondhand smoke?
Secondhand smoke is the smoke from the burning end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar combined with the smoke breathed out by the smoker. You can be exposed to secondhand smoke anytime a person smokes near you.
Return to top
Dangers of secondhand smoke
Secondhand smoke causes early death and disease in children and adults who do not smoke. One study estimated that secondhand smoke causes about 3,000 deaths from lung cancer and about 46,000 deaths from heart disease every year. The more you are around secondhand smoke, the more likely you are to get sick. There is no safe amount of secondhand smoke.
Other health problems caused by secondhand smoke include:
• Nasal sinus cancer
• Eye, nose, and throat irritation
Return to top
Secondhand smoke exposure in the workplace
Did you know?
Breathing in secondhand smoke at home or at work increases your chances of getting lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent.
The good news is that most employees in the United States work for businesses with smoke-free policies. The bad news is that many workers are still exposed to secondhand smoke, especially those who work in bars and restaurants. Studies have found that restaurant and bar workers breathe more secondhand smoke than other workers and have higher rates of lung cancer.
Many restaurant and bar owners argue that smoking bans will hurt their businesses. But studies have shown that this is not the case. In New York City, income and the number of jobs in the city both increased after a city-wide smoking ban was put in place. Today, more and more states are passing laws banning smoking in restaurants and bars.
Return to top
How secondhand smoke affects babies and children
Why does birth weight matter?
Low-birth-weight babies are more likely to die or have serious health problems. They are also more likely to have long-term disabilities, such as problems seeing or hearing.
Studies show that babies born to mothers who were exposed to secondhand smoke during their pregnancy have more health problems than babies whose moms were not around secondhand smoke. These babies tend to have weaker lungs and lower birth weights. Also, babies of mothers who smoke before and after birth are more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). SIDS is the sudden and unexplained death of a baby under 1 year of age.
Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk for these health problems:
• Ear infections
Studies show that children of smokers are sick more often than children of nonsmokers. Also, secondhand smoke exposure can make some chronic health problems worse. For instance, secondsmoke can cause children who already have asthma to have more frequent and severe attacks. Even after the smoke clears, toxins can be left behind as residue. Children and babies are easily exposed to residue on floors, toys, clothing, and other household surfaces. Take care of yourself and your children by quitting smoking today. For help quitting, visit our how to quit section.
Return to top
Tips to avoid secondhand smoke
If you live with a smoker:
• Ask the smoker to keep your home and cars smoke-free at all times. Ask him/her to smoke outside only.
• If the smoker refuses, suggest other ways to protect yourself and your children. Ask the smoker to smoke only in one room or smoke at home only when you and the children are not there.
• Open a window to let some fresh air in or use a fan to blow the smoke outside.
• Support smokers who are trying to quit.
When visitors come:
• Ask smokers who visit not to smoke in your house.
In others' homes:
• Ask others nicely to not smoke around you.
• Let smokers know if you're having problems (such as coughing or itchy eyes) because of their smoking.
If you have children:
• Keep your home smoke-free. Ask babysitters, family members, and caregivers not to smoke inside or around your children, even if outside.
• Do not smoke in your car.
• If the smoker still smokes around your children, have your children leave the room or play outside while the person is smoking.
• Make sure your children's daycare or schools are 100 percent smoke-free.
Away from home:
• Spend time in smoke-free places.
• Avoid restaurants and bars that allow smoking.
For more information on secondhand smoke, see The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General .
Return to top
More information on secondhand smoke
Explore other publications and websites
• Harm to Kids From Secondhand Smoke (Copyright © Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids) — This publication provides facts on how tobacco use harms children before birth and throughout their development in life. It discusses how exposure to secondhand smoke from family members can affect kids and what the effects of teen smoking are.
• Health Effects of Exposure to Secondhand Smoke — This publication describes what secondhand smoke is and how it puts exposed children at risk, especially those who have asthma and lung diseases.
• Secondhand Smoke (SHS) Facts — This fact sheet describes the effects of secondhand smoke on children and adults. It discusses risk factors and health considerations, including statistics on exposure rates.
• Smoking and Asthma (Copyright © Nemours Foundation) — This online fact sheet explains why secondhand smoke is bad for your health and why it is especially dangerous for teens with asthma.
• Take the Smoke-free Homes Pledge — This online pledge encourages parents to maintain a smoke-free home for their children.
• The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General — This website provides links to the Surgeon General's report on the health risks related to secondhand smoke. This website also includes fact sheets on secondhand smoke in different environments.
Connect with other organizations
• American Cancer Society
• American Lung Association
• Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
• Indoor Air Quality Information Clearinghouse, EAP
• National Cancer Institute, NIH
• Prevent Cancer Foundation
Content last updated May 19, 2010.
Resources last updated May 19, 2010.