Secondhand Smoke

Second hand smoke

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Also known as involuntary or passive smoking, second-hand smoking results in a number of harmful chemicals being shared with friends, strangers, family and even the pets of smokers.

What is second-hand smoke?

The vapours inhaled from a burning cigarette are called ‘first-hand’ or ‘mainstream’ smoke. At the same time as a smoker smokes, people around them are exposed to what’s called ‘sidestream’ smoke. The combination of sidestream smoke and any exhaled smoke in the air is called second-hand smoke.

This smoke contains the same combination of over 7,000 chemicals that smokers inhale themselves, including many that are harmful.1

Studies show that non-smokers who live with smokers have a 25-30% greater risk of developing coronary heart disease, than people living in a smoke-free environment.3

What’s bad about second-hand smoking?

The proportions of chemicals produced by first-hand smoking vary when compared with second-hand smoke, but the chemicals themselves are generally the same. Some examples of toxic chemicals are:

  • Carbon monoxide, which inhibits the ability of the lungs to take up oxygen.4
  • Nicotine, which provides the short-lived feelings that get smokers hooked.6
  • Tar, which can coat the lungs4

How does second-hand smoking affect children?3

Second-hand smoke statistics make difficult reading.

  • There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke.3
  • Children, can suffer from a range of upper and lower respiratory illnesses when exposed to second-hand smoke.5 
  • A young person regularly exposed to second-hand smoke has a 20%-30% increased risk of developing lung cancer than those brought-up in a smoke-free environment.3

What about pregnant women and their babies?

Studies suggest that the risk of miscarriage and premature birth increases if a mother smokes during pregnancy, as does the likelihood of low birth weight. Health problems such as respiratory infections, asthma and allergies are more common in the infants of smokers.5

How can you avoid second-hand smoke symptoms?

Quitting is the best way to help make your home a safer place to live, and we want to help and support you with that challenge. For the most tailored tips on how to quit, first find out what type of smoker are you?