Did you know that there is no known safe level of secondhand smoke exposure? Even being around secondhand smoke for a short time can be harmful to a person’s health. If you smoke, it is important to recognize the impact that secondhand smoke may have on those around you – including your friends, family, coworkers and pets. One way to keep those around you safe from secondhand smoke is to develop a plan to quit smoking.
Unsure of what secondhand smoke is, or what its dangers are? Read on for 9 facts about secondhand smoke to keep in mind and help motivate you to quit.
- Secondhand smoke comes from burning tobacco products like cigarettes, cigars or pipes.
- Secondhand smoke also comes from smoke that has been exhaled, or breathed out, by a person who smokes.
- Tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals. Hundreds of these are toxic and at least 70 are known to cause cancer.
- Secondhand smoke may cause or worsens a number of health problems such as lung cancer, heart disease, coughing, COPD, asthma and lung disease in non-smokers.
- The U.S. Surgeon General estimates that living with a smoker (and therefore being exposed to secondhand smoke) increases a non-smoker’s chances of developing lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent. More than 7,000 non-smokers in the U.S. die of lung cancer each year due to secondhand smoke. Many more die of other diseases caused by secondhand smoke.
- Most exposure to secondhand smoke occurs in homes, cars and workplaces, but people can also be exposed to secondhand smoke in public places such as in restaurants, bars and casinos. Employees at these establishments are also at risk, as they may spend hours exposed to secondhand smoke while working.
- Non-smoking sections of places that allow smoking, open windows and ventilation systems do not eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke.
- During 2011–2012, more than 1 in 3 (36.8%) non-smokers who lived in rental housing were exposed to secondhand smoke. If you are worried about secondhand smoke in your building, seek out resources on finding smokefree housing
- The good news: Thanks to more smokefree locations and facilities, measurements show that exposure to secondhand smoke has decreased in the United States.
If you have not yet quit smoking, you can take steps to protect your family and friends from secondhand smoke. You can:
- Quit smoking with support from our social community
- Partner with a friend through the Quitter’s Circle app and be each other’s supporters in the quit-smoking journey
- Ask others not to smoke inside or close to your home
- Maintain a smokefree vehicle (don’t smoke even with the windows down!)
- Plan to visit public spaces that are smokefree, such as restaurants, movie theaters and parks
- Educate your children about the dangers of secondhand smoke and why it’s important to try to avoid it
The effects of smoking and secondhand smoke exposure are harmful, therefore it’s important to make sure those around you are staying safe and healthy.
Take the first step in quitting smoking and commit to a Quit Date. You’ll be starting the journey toward a smokefree life so that both you and your loved ones may breathe easier.