- How Smoking Affects Your Looks & Life Slideshow
- Tips to Quit Smoking Slideshow
- Take the Quiz on Smoking
- Patient Comments: Secondhand Smoke - Experience
- Find a local Family Physician in your town
- Secondhand smoke facts
- What is secondhand smoke?
- What causes secondhand smoke?
- What are the health risks of secondhand smoke?
- Lung cancer and secondhand smoke
- Cardiovascular disease and secondhand smoke
- Other lung diseases and secondhand smoke
- Secondhand smoke and other effects on children
- Secondhand smoke and the effects on pregnant women
- Secondhand smoke and the possible link to breast cancer
- Is there a safe level of secondhand smoke?
- What can be done about secondhand smoke exposure?
- What is thirdhand smoke?
Quick GuideEffects of Secondhand Smoke: Facts
What can be done about secondhand smoke exposure?
Local, state, and national governments have enacted a variety of laws designed to protect people from health dangers associated with secondhand smoke. These laws vary according to location. The American Lung Association has a listing of these regulations grouped by U.S. state (see References below). Legislation to prevent smoking in workplaces and public buildings is on the rise as the public becomes more informed about the risks of secondhand smoke.
Obviously, quitting smoking if you are a smoker is the best way to protect your family and friends from secondhand smoke. A number of support systems, programs, and even prescription medications are available to help smokers break the habit.
If you are a non-smoker, the safest way to avoid passive smoke is not to allow others to smoke in your home. This is particularly important if there are children in your home. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, smoke-free workplaces are the only way to protect people from exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace, since separate smoking areas, cleaning the air, and ventilating the building are not sufficient to prevent exposure if people still are permitted to smoke inside the building.
What is thirdhand smoke?
Thirdhand smoke exposure is a new concept; it is exposure to many of the toxic agents in smoke that have accumulated (as residue) in clothing, drapes, rugs, furniture, dust, and other items due to secondhand smoke. The toxic agents, deposited in and on items from secondhand smoke, can be absorbed through the skin and mucous membranes of non-smokers, especially by infants and young children. Prevention of secondhand smoke exposure can prevent thirdhand smoke exposure.
Medically reviewed by James E. Gerace, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Pulmonary Disease
American Cancer Society. "Secondhand Smoke."
American Lung Association. "Smoking restrictions in U.S. States."
National Cancer Institute. "Secondhand Smoke."
Sleiman, M., Gundel, L., Pankow, J., et al. "Formation of carcinogens indoors by surface-mediated reactions of nicotine with nitrous acid, leading to potential thirdhand smoke hazards." PNAS; doi:10.1073/pnas.0912820107