Secondhand smoke is:
When nonsmokers breathe this smoke, it is called passive smoking.
Exposure to tobacco smoke is dangerous to everyone. Every time someone smokes, poisonous chemicals are released into the air, such as formaldehyde, cyanide, carbon monoxide, and ammonia. Many of these chemicals are known to cause cancer in humans or animals.
Each year, many nonsmokers die from lung cancer as a result of breathing secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke can also cause:
Children exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to get sick. They are more likely to have:
Exposure to cigarette smoke appears to be a factor in SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Babies whose mothers smoke, both during pregnancy and after, are more likely to die of SIDS than babies of nonsmoking mothers. Also, research suggests possible links between mothers who smoke and attention-deficit disorder (ADHD) in their children. And there is a greater chance that children of smokers will become smokers.
If you are regularly around someone who smokes at least a few cigarettes a day, your risks of medical problems are similar to the increased risks for smokers. A nonsmoker in a very smoky room for 1 hour with several smokers inhales as many bad chemicals as someone who has smoked 10 or more cigarettes. If you live or work in a smoky environment:
There is no safe level of tobacco smoke. However, the closer you are to the smoke coming from the end of a cigarette, cigar, or pipe, the worse it is for you. Being in a car with a smoker is especially bad, even if the windows are open. But you can also be exposed to dangerous levels in homes of smokers (even with open windows) and anywhere that allows smoking. Smoke and the chemicals from it linger in dust and on carpet, floors, counters, and other surfaces.
Even if you drink or dine in nonsmoking areas of bars and restaurants, you will still inhale quite a bit of smoke. On average, you will inhale about 50% of the smoke you would inhale in the smoking areas.
By promoting smoke-free environments, we are helping to protect everyone's health.
For more information, contact your local chapter of the American Cancer Society or the American Lung Association. You can also visit their Web sites at http://www.cancer.org and http://www.lungusa.org.