Clean Air

Key Topics

How Harmful Is Second-hand Smoke?

It is well known that smoking is harmful to smokers, but many people don't realize that breathing second-hand smoke is extremely hazardous to the health of non-smokers.

  • Second-hand smoke is more than a nuisance; it is a "class A" human carcinogen, containing over 4,000 chemicals, more than 60 which are cancer causing agents.
  • The scientific evidence indicates there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke.
  • Exposure to second-hand smoke increases the risk of lung cancer, heart disease, nasal sinus cancer and respiratory illnesses.
  • Secondhand smoke increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and middle ear infections in children.
  • Brief exposure of adults to second-hand smoke has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system.
  • Second-hand smoke cannot be controlled by ventilation or air cleaning. The only solution to this problem is to make buildings smoke-free.

Smoking is the single greatest avoidable cause of disease and death. To access the major conclusions of the 2006 US Surgeon General report, The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General, go to: