Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke is a mixture of the smoke given off by the burning end of a cigarette, pipe or cigar and the smoke exhaled from the lungs of smokers. Secondhand smoke is also called environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). Exposure to secondhand smoke is called involuntary smoking, or passive smoking.

What are the facts?

Secondhand smoke:
  • Has been classified as a known cause of lung cancer in humans.
  • Can make healthy young children sick; it can cause pneumonia, ear infections, bronchitis, coughing, wheezing and increased mucus production.
  • Can lead to buildup of fluid in the middle ear.
  • Can cause irritation of the eyes, nose and throat.
  • Contains more than 4,000 chemicals: 200 are poisons and 60 cause cancer. There is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure. Secondhand smoke causes increased cardiovascular risks by damaging blood vessels.
  • Causes approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths and 35,000 heart disease deaths in nonsmokers each year, according to the EPA.
  • Is associated with low birth weight
  • May make asthma attacks more frequent and severe in children.
  • Can hurt pets, dogs and cats exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to develop cancers.
  • Exposure is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer and infertility.
  • Causes 53,000 deaths every year, making it the third leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.

Where is secondhand smoke a problem?
  • Your workplace.
  • Public places such as restaurants, shopping centers, public transportation, schools and daycare centers.
  • Public places where children go are a special area of concern.
  • Your home.