Secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard causing more than 41,000 deaths per year in the United States (1).  It can cause or make worse a wide range of damaging health effects in children and adults, including lung cancer, respiratory infections and asthma.  Secondhand smoke causes approximately 7,330 deaths from lung cancer and 33,950 deaths from heart disease each year (2). Secondhand smoke is dangerous.

Take ONE STEP to protect loved ones from SHS exposure

Knowing and understanding the dangers of secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure will help you create safe breathing environments as well as inform parents of the risks, myths, and preventive measures regarding SHS and aerosols (3).

  • Smoke outside, away from windows, doors, and children
  • Don’t allow smoking at any time or place children will be present (home, car, etc.)
  • Teach children how to stay away from secondhand smoke
  • Model a tobacco and smokefree lifestyle
  • Implement a smokefree house/property policy
  • Be honest with young people about how difficult it is to quit smoking and encourage them not to start

If you’re ready to change your tobacco use, check out these support resources.

Smoke is Smoke

There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and about 70 that can cause cancer (4).  Chemicals found in tobacco smoke include arsenic, ammonia, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and acetone (5).

Secondhand smoke exposure can lead to diseases similar to those found in cigarette smokers, including heart disease and lung cancer.  That is why is critical to keep you and your family in smokefree places, indoors and out.

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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Fast Facts on Diseases and Death.”  Retrieved from:
  2. American Lung Association “Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke.”  Retrieved from: 
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “2006 Surgeon General’s Report Highlights – How to Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones from Secondhand Smoke.” Retrieved from:
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke.” Retrieved from: 
  5. American Lung Association “What’s In a Cigarette?” Retrieved from:

Page last updated: June 7, 2024

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