Dangers of Second Hand Smoke

What You Can Do

  • Don’t allow others to smoke in your home or car
  • Visit smoke-free restaurants and public places (see our Dining Guide)
  • Let owners of businesses that are not smoke-free that the smoke bothers you
  • Ask people not to smoke around you and your children

What Is Secondhand Smoke?

When a person smokes near you, you breathe secondhand smoke.  Secondhand smoke (or SHS) is the combination of smoke from the burning end of the cigarette and the smoke breathed out by smokers.  When you breathe secondhand smoke, it is like you are smoking.

Whether you are young or old, healthy or sick, secondhand smoke is dangerous!

In 2006, the US Surgeon General issued a new report about “The Health Consequences of Invouluntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke”.  These are some of the findings from that report.

The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that breathing even a little secondhand smoke poses a risk to your health. Scientific evidence indicates that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Breathing even a little secondhand smoke can be harmful to your health.

  • Secondhand smoke causes lung cancer.
  • Secondhand smoke is a known human carcinogen and contains more than 50 chemicals that can cause cancer.
  • Concentrations of many cancer-causing and toxic chemicals are potentially higher in secondhand smoke than in the smoke inhaled by smokers.
  • Secondhand smoke causes heart disease.
  • Breathing secondhand smoke for even a short time can have immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system, interfering with the normal functioning of the heart, blood, and vascular systems in ways that increase the risk of heart attack.
  • Even a short time in a smoky room can cause your blood platelets to become stickier, damage the lining of blood vessels, decrease coronary flow velocity reserves, and reduce heart rate variability.
  • Persons who already have heart disease are at especially high risk of suffering adverse affects from breathing secondhand smoke, and should take special precautions to avoid even brief exposure.
  • Secondhand smoke causes acute respiratory effects.
  • Secondhand smoke contains many chemicals that can quickly irritate and damage the lining of the airways.
  • Even brief exposure can trigger respiratory symptoms, including cough, phlegm, wheezing, and breathlessness.
  • Brief exposure to secondhand smoke can trigger an asthma attack in children with asthma.
  • Persons who already have asthma or other respiratory conditions are at especially high risk for being affected by secondhand smoke, and should take special precautions to avoid secondhand smoke exposure.
  • Secondhand smoke can cause sudden infant death syndrome and other health consequences in infants and children.
  • Smoking by women during pregnancy has been known for some time to cause SIDS.
  • Infants who are exposed to secondhand smoke after birth are also at greater risk of SIDS.
  • Children exposed to secondhand smoke are also at an increased risk for acute respiratory infections, ear problems, and more severe asthma.
  • Smoking by parents causes respiratory symptoms and slows lung growth in their children. NO Amount of Secondhand Smoke Is Safe!

NO Amount of Secondhand Smoke Is Safe!

For more information about the 2004 Surgeon General’s Report on Secondhand Smoke click here

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