Confirmed – Secondhand Smoke Causes Heart Attacks

(October 15, 2009)

A new Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects: Making Sense of the Evidence, has confirmed that exposure to secondhand smoke is a significant cause of heart attacks among nonsmokers.  This report underscores the urgency of the American Lung Association’s Smokefree Air Challenge, a nationwide campaign to eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke in all work and public places.

The U.S. Surgeon General concluded back in 2006 that nearly 50,000 Americans die each year from secondhand smoke exposure. The findings of this new IOM report are significant, because they confirm that secondhand smoke exposure is a significant cause of acute coronary events, including heart attacks, and that there is no safe level of exposure. 

The report also concluded that relatively brief exposure to secondhand smoke can cause acute coronary events. It has already been shown that secondhand smoke also causes other serious diseases, including lung cancer.

This growing mountain of evidence makes it clear that secondhand smoke kills, and to protect the public health, smoking should be prohibited in all public areas and workplaces. The Lung Association’s Smokefree Air Challenge is dedicated to making this happen. 

To date, half of all states, along with the District of Columbia, have met our Smokefree Air Challenge by implementing comprehensive smokefree laws.  These laws protect all workers from toxic secondhand smoke in the workplace, and also protect customers from smoke in bars and restaurants, giving people with asthma and other lung diseases the freedom to dine and socialize wherever they choose.

Now with even more evidence of the dangers of secondhand smoke from this new report, it is time for the remaining 25 states to protect their citizens by meeting our Smokefree Air Challenge and joining the American Lung Association in our fight to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease.

To learn more about the American Lung Association’s Smokefree Air Challenge, please visit

The lifesaving work of the American Lung Association depends on the ongoing support of people like you, who care about healthy lungs and healthy air. Learn how you can support our work through a donation or other gift.