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Effects of Secondhand Smoke

Florida Department of Health in Santa Rosa County

Physical Address:

Milton Location
5527 Stewart St.
Milton, FL, 32570
850-983-5200

Monday–Friday
8 a.m.–5 p.m.


There is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure. A child who spends an hour in a room filled with secondhand smoke breathes in as many harmful chemicals as a person who smokes 10 or more cigerettes.

Secondhand smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke, passive smoke, and tobacco smoke polution is a mixture of the smoke exhaled by a smoker and smoke from the lit end of a cigarette, cigar, or pipe. It contains more than 7,000 chemicals1 including at least 70 known carcinogens1 (cancer causing substances). People exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk for many negative health conditions.

What are the Dangers? 

Adults

In nonsmoking adults, secondhand smoke:

  • Can cause lung cancer
  • Can cause cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke.
  • Is associated with chronic lung conditions such as ashma and bronchitis

Children

Because of their developing lungs, children are especially vulnerable to secondhand smoke. It is estimated that more than 50% of the world's children are exposed to secondhand smoke in their own homes. A child who spends an hour in a room filled with secondhand smoke breathes in as many harmful chemicals as a person who smokes 10 or more cigerettes.

Secondhand smoke may increase:

  • An infant's risk for low birthweight if mother is exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy
  • An infant's risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Risk of severe infections of the lower respiratory tract, such as bronchitis and pneumonia
  • Risk of developing ashma
  • Risk of ear infections

Common Health Problems Caused by Secondhand Smoke  

  • Eye and nose irritation
  • Headache
  • Cavities
  • Reduced lung function
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing and wheezing

How You Can Protect Yourself and Your Family From Secondhand Smoke 

  • If you smoke, stop. The Florida Department of Health in Santa Rosa County, in conjunction with West Florida Area Health Education Centers (AHEC), offers three ways to quit smoking and all of them are free. These solutions are available to ALL residents of Santa Rosa County.
  • Do not allow smoking in your home.
  • Do not allow smoking in your vehicle.
  • NEVER allow smoking around your children.
  • Do not allow smoking around your parents or other senior citizens.

1U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014 [accessed 2017 Feb 21]. Secondhand smoke is the combination of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette and the smoke breathed out by smokers. Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, of which hundreds are toxic and about 70 can cause cancer.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vital Signs: Nonsmokers’ Exposure to Secondhand Smoke—United States, 1999–2008. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2010;59(35):1141–6 [accessed 2017 Feb 21].