Second Hand Smoke – Get The Facts

Today second hand smoke, often referred to as environmental tobacco smoke, has become a serious topic, especially as more health concerns are brought to light. While many people have thought that only smokers were affected by smoking, newer studies have confirmed that exposure to this smoke can affect non-smokers in many ways.

What is It?

Second Hand SmokeFirst, it’s important to understand what second hand smoke is. This smoke is a combination of smoke exhaled by someone smoking and the smoke that a burning tobacco product gives off. Within the United States, most environmental tobacco smoke comes from cigarettes, although cigars, pipes and other tobacco products contribute to it as well. Keep in mind that the amount of tobacco available for burning in a tobacco product affects the amount of smoke created.

Are the Chemicals in Smoke Harmful?

The reason environmental tobacco smoke has become such a huge issue is that studies have shown that it contains many harmful chemicals. In fact, over 7,000 different chemicals have been identified in this smoke and 69 of them are considered toxic chemicals that may cause cancer.
The following are just a few of the toxic chemicals that may be present in tobacco smoke:

Ethylene oxide

The type of tobacco, the material used to wrap the tobacco, the chemicals added and other factors may affect the specific chemicals found in this smoke.

Why is it an Important Problem?

Secondhand smoke is such an important problem because the US Environmental Protection Agency and various other organizations have classified it as a “known human carcinogen,” which means it is a cancer-causing agent. According to the CDC’s fact sheet, this smoke can cause various health effects in children, such as a greater risk for SIDS, respiratory infections, ear infections and other health problems. The health effects it may have on adults include heart disease and even lung cancer.

Where Can Exposure Occur?

It’s important to know where you may be exposed to second hand smoke so you can try to reduce your risk. Many people are exposed at the workplace and everyone in public places may be exposed. Other common places exposure can occur are in the car or even at home. Some laws are working to reduce exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and consumers can take measures to make their own cars and homes a smoke free environment.

If you can smell it, it’s harming you!

Useful Resources:

Smoking and Tobacco Use – Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand Smoke and Cancer

2 Responses to “Second Hand Smoke – Get The Facts”

  1. June says:

    Hi David

    Great information about second hand smoke.
    I have 2 children under 7 years old and their grandpa takes them to school each morning.
    Unfortunately he smokes in the car. I have told him not to do it as it has an adverse effect upon the children’s health. He always replied; “That’s rubbish”!
    I took him and showed him the page about second hand smoke and he was truly shocked at the poisons that he was exposing the children to. He still smokes in the car but not when the kids are in it. So thanks.


    • David says:


      I’m so glad grandpa has stopped smoking around the children. I also smoked with my children in the car, as well as in the house, and now my son has asthma. It’s something I deeply regret…hopefully others will see this and stop smoking around the ones they love the most.


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