Secondhand smoke is also known as passive or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). It is a combination of smoke exhaled by smokers (Mainstream smoke) and that given off by the burning end of a cigarette, cigar, or pipe (Sidestream smoke). When Non-Smokers breathe in secondhand smoke, they take in nicotine and other toxic chemicals just like smokers do. The more secondhand smoke you are exposed to, the higher the level of these harmful chemicals in your body. Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemical compounds. More than 250 of these chemicals are known to be harmful, and at least 69 are known to cause cancer. Secondhand smoke causes lung cancer in nonsmokers and it has been associated with heart disease in adults and sudden infant death syndrome, ear infections, and asthma attacks in children. Second-hand smoke accounts for one in 10 tobacco-related deaths. Creating 100% smoke-free environments is the only way to protect people from the harmful effects of secondhand tobacco smoke. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

 

Facts about Secondhand Smoke

Fact1

Second-hand smoke is the smoke that fills restaurants, offices or other enclosed spaces when people burn tobacco products such as cigarettes, bidis and water pipes. Everyone is exposed to its harmful effects.

Fact2

Guidelines to Article 8 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control state that there is “no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke”. Creating 100% smoke-free environments is the only way to protect people from the harmful effects of second-hand tobacco smoke.

Fact3

Second-hand smoke causes 600 000 premature deaths per year. There are more than 4000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, of which at least 250 are known to be harmful and more than 50 are known to cause cancer.

Fact4

In adults, second-hand smoke causes serious cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, including coronary heart disease and lung cancer. In infants, it causes sudden death. In pregnant women, it causes low birth weight.

Fact5

Separate or ventilated smoking areas do not protect non-smokers from second-hand smoke. Second-hand smoke can spread from a smoking area to a non-smoking area, even if the doors between the two areas are closed and even if ventilation is provided. Only 100% smoke-free environments provide effective protection.

Fact6

About 40% of all children are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke at home. Thirty-one per cent of the deaths attributable to second-hand smoke occur in children.

Fact7

Youths exposed to second-hand smoke at home are one-and-a-half to two times more likely to start smoking than those not exposed.

Fact8

Ten per cent of the economic costs related to tobacco use are attributable to second-hand smoke. Tobacco use imposes both direct economic costs on society, such as those associated with treating tobacco-related diseases and indirect costs, such as those associated with reduced productivity or lost wages because of death or illness.

Fact9

More than 94% of people are unprotected by smoke-free laws. However, in 2008 the number of people protected from second-hand smoke by such laws increased by 74% to 362 million from 208 million in 2007. Of the 100 most populous cities, 22 are smoke-free.

Fact10

Through the tobacco control package called MPOWER, WHO helps countries to implement the provisions of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to protect people from second-hand smoke.