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 by smokers. Secondhand smoke is also called environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and exposure to secondhand smoke is sometimes called involuntary or passive smoking. Secondhand smoke contains more than 4,000 substances, several of which are known to cause cancer in humans or animals.

What’s the Risk?

  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has concluded that exposure to secondhand smoke can cause lung cancer in adults who do not smoke. The EPA estimates that exposure to secondhand smoke causes approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths per year in nonsmokers.
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke has also been shown in a number of studies to increase the risk of heart disease.

Serious Health Risks to Children

Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke because they are still developing physically, have higher breathing rates than adults, and have little control over their indoor environments. Children exposed to high doses of secondhand smoke, such as those whose mothers smoke, run the greatest relative risk of experiencing damaging health effects.

  • Exposure to secondhand smoke can cause asthma in children who have not previously exhibited symptoms.
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
  • Infants and children younger than 6 who are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk of lower respiratory track infections, such as pneumonia and bronchitis.
  • Children who regularly breathe secondhand smoke are at increased risk for middle ear infections.

For more information about Quitting Tobacco and Tobacco Prevention Programs in Gallatin County, go here.