The hard facts about second-hand smoke

What is second-hand smoke?

Second-hand smoke is the smoke from the lit end of your cigarette and the smoke you breathe out. The particles you breathe out are smaller and 85% of them are invisible and odourless.


Why is it harmful?

There are more than 4 000 toxic chemicals like lead, cyanide, and arsenic in second-hand smoke. 60 of them are known to cause cancer and mutations in living cells.


How can it hang around for 5 hours?

A recent Scottish study found that the smoke you breathe out can linger in the air for up to 5 hours. You can’t see or smell it, but it’s there. This means it will still be there when your kids come home from school, and because it’s made up of particles that are smaller than household dust, it moves easily from room to room, as you move around and open doors.


Health Effects in Children

In children, second-hand smoke can cause:

• Ear infections

• More frequent and severe asthma attacks

• Respiratory symptoms (for example, coughing, sneezing, and shortness of breath)

• Respiratory infections (bronchitis and pneumonia)

• A greater risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)


Health Effects in Adults

In adults who have never smoked, second-hand smoke can cause:

• Heart disease -For non-smokers, breathing second-hand smoke has immediate harmful effects on the heart and blood vessels

• Lung cancer

• Stroke