Secondhand Smoke

About Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke (also called Passive Smoke, Environmental Tobacco Smoke, or ETS) is a mixture of the unfiltered smoke that comes from burning tobacco and the smoke exhaled by the smoker.  Because smoke from a burning cigarette is unfiltered, it may contain twice the amount of tar and nicotine as the smoke that passes through the filter.

There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke!

Breathing secondhand smoke increases the risk of developing heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory problems.  Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke.  Anyone who already has heart disease or respiratory problems should be careful to avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.

Learn more about the health effects of secondhand smoke.

What Can I Do?

To protect yourself and your loved ones from secondhand smoke, you should:

  • Not allow anyone to smoke anywhere in or near your home.
  • Not allow anyone to smoke in your car, even with the window down.
  • Make sure your children’s day care centers and schools are tobacco-free.
  • Make sure caretakers like nannies and babysitters do not smoke.
  • If your state still allows smoking in public areas, look for restaurants and other places that do not allow smoking. “No-smoking sections” do not protect you and your family from secondhand smoke.

Thirdhand Smoke

A relatively new term, third hand smoke, is being used to describe the residue that builds up on surfaces after exposure to smoke.  More research is coming out on the effects of third hand smoke but it is clear this toxic residue does cause health risks.

Learn more about thirdhand smoke.