Secondhand Smoke – What is it?

“The debate is over. The science is clear. Secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance but a serious health hazard.”

Secondhand smoke is the mixture of smoke from the burning end of the cigarette, pipe, or cigar and the smoke breathed out by smokers. The dangerous particles in secondhand smoke can float in the air for hours, even if there’s an open window or a fan in the room. Breathing secondhand smoke is sometimes called passive smoking or involuntary smoking because the person breathing the toxins did not choose to smoke. Secondhand smoke causes disease in kids and adults.

For a healthy adult, even breathing secondhand smoke for a few minutes can irritate the lungs and reduce the amount of oxygen in the blood. Secondhand smoke is dangerous for everyone, but the poisons in secondhand smoke are especially harmful to babies and children because their bodies are developing. Children whose parents smoke are more likely to have health problems:

  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Severe asthma
  • Pneumonia
  • Bronchitis
  • Ear infections
  • Lead poisoning

Little ones can’t protect themselves. Only the adults in each child’s life have the power to fully protect children from the dangers of secondhand smoke. Learn how you can protect your family from secondhand smoke.

Want to learn more?

The American Medical Association and the Environmental Protection Agency teamed up to make a video that helps parents understand how secondhand smoke exposure affects their families: Children Exposed to Secondhand Smoke