Secondhand Smoke and Asthma

What is Secondhand Smoke?  

How does Secondhand Smoke Affect Asthma?

Actions You Can Take

Children and Secondhand Smoke

Protect Your Child from Secondhand Smoke

When You Smoke Your Baby Smokes

Children's Environmental Intervention Training (CEIT)


 What is Secondhand Smoke?

Secondhand smoke, also known as Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS), consists of exhaled smoke from smokers and side stream smoke from the burning end of a cigarette, cigar or pipe. Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 substances, including over 70 compounds that are known to cause cancer.

healthy people


 How Does Secondhand Smoke Affect Asthma?

Secondhand smoke can trigger asthma episodes and increase the severity of attacks. Secondhand smoke is also a risk factor for new cases of asthma in preschool aged children who have not already exhibited asthma symptoms. Scientists believe that secondhand smoke irritates the chronically inflamed bronchial passages of people with asthma. Secondhand smoke is linked to other health problems, including lung cancer, ear infections and other chronic respiratory illnesses, such as bronchitis and pneumonia.

Many of the health effects of secondhand smoke, including asthma, are most clearly seen in children because children are most vulnerable to its effects. Most likely, children's developing bodies make them more susceptible to secondhand smoke's effects and, due to their small size, they breathe more rapidly than adults thereby taking in more secondhand smoke. The developing lungs of young children are severely affected by exposure to secondhand smoke for several reasons including that children are still developing physically, have higher breathing rates than adults, and have little control over their indoor environments. Children receiving high doses of secondhand smoke, such as those who have parents who smoke, run the greatest risk of suffering from the damaging health effects.


 Actions You Can Take

  • Choose not to smoke in your home or car and don't allow others to do so.
  • Choose not to smoke in the presence of people with asthma.
  • Choose not to smoke in the presence of children, who are particularly susceptible to the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.
  • Do not allow baby-sitters, caregivers or others in your home to smoke in your house or near your children.
  • Talk to your children's teachers and day care providers about keeping the places your children spend time smoke-free.


 Children are especially sensitive to the dangers of secondhand smoke!

  • Children who breathe secondhand smoke are more likely to develop asthma.
  • Children who have asthma and who breathe secondhand smoke have more asthma attacks.
  • Children who breathe secondhand smoke are more likely to suffer from pneumonia, bronchitis, and other lung diseases.
  • Secondhand smoke causes irritation of the eyes, nose and throat.
  • Children who breathe secondhand smoke have more ear infections.
  • There are an estimated 150,000 to 300,000 cases every year of infections in infants and children under 18 months of age who breathe secondhand smoke.


 How you can protect your child from secondhand smoke:

  • NEVER SMOKE AROUND YOUR CHILD. Don't smoke in your home. Insist that others don't smoke in your home either. Smoking in another area of the home, even if well ventilated, exposes others to secondhand smoke.
  • Ask smokers to go outside if they must smoke. In restaurants and public places stay only in non-smoking areas.
  • Don't smoke with your child in the car.
  • Make sure your child's daycare, school, and after-school programs are smoke-free.

Click HERE to learn more about Asthma and Smoking

 Smokefree homes 

When You Smoke Your Baby Smokes

When You Smoke Your Baby Smokes will explain to new parents the importance of giving their new baby a smoke free environment. Babies new lungs can be harmed by both second hand smoke that occurs when someone is smoking in the home and by third hand smoke that is on the clothes, furniture, cars and other places a person has smoked.

This 4 minute discussion of the harm from smoke and ways parents can protect their baby should be viewed by every parent in a smoker's household. These lessons are particularly important to the health of a baby born prematurely

This lesson has been found to help mothers and fathers resist the urge to re-start smoking in the weeks and months following the birth of a baby.

When You Smoke Your Baby Smokes was written and developed for Dr. Allen Merritt, Neonatologist, at Loma Linda University Children's Hospital in Loma Linda, CA.


Children’s Environmental Intervention Training (CEIT): Using ONE Step and Asthma Management to Protect Children

The American Lung Association in Colorado’s (ALAC)  FREE CEIT training will provide training and resources on asthma and Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) to early childhood educators to equip them to educate parents, through health-focused messaging, about removing asthma triggers and environmental tobacco smoke from their homes.  This training educates Early Childhood Educators (ECE) about the basics of asthma management, including asthma triggers, and teaches them how to create an asthma program at their child care center, including reducing asthma triggers, while also teaching them about the harms of environmental tobacco smoke and how to speak to parents in a non-threatening, health-focused way about protecting their children from ETS.  Free resources include a toolkit to reference and use the information provided in the training. The toolkit and other free resources can be found on To see the general training flyer, click HERE.

Attendees will:

  • Receive 1.5 Continuing Education Credits!
  • Get FREE resources
  • We can provide FREE Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner depending on training time
  • Gain the knowledge and confidence to talk with parents about the harmful effects of Environmental Tobacco Smoke
  • Learn how to strengthen tobacco policies in their center/home or school
  • Learn how to encourage “no smoking” policies in air shared by children at any time in any place
  • Be given tips on how to discuss how to better care for children with asthma while also sharing important messages with parents about environmental triggers associated with their child’s asthma.

If you are a childcare provider or an early childhood educator and would like to learn more about a free training in your area around protecting children from environmental tobacco smoke and asthma please send us an email at or call 303-847-0279.

Watch the Children's Environmental Intervention Training's RECORDED webinar to receive 1.5 continuing education credits. **MUST BE A RESIDENT OF COLORADO.

To apply for CME credit for this webinar, you must adhere to the following process:

  • Watch the webinar HERE
  • Click HERE to take the post-training evaluation through SurveyMonkey. Note- you must complete the survey in its entirety for credit.
  • E-mail the American Lung Association in Colorado to notify of completion-
  • Once notified, American Lung Association in Co staff will review your responses to determine pass or fail.
  • Upon passing, American Lung Association in Co staff will e-mail you your 1.5 CEC's and mail the training toolkit and other materials to the address you supply in the SurveyMonkey.

Thank you!

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