Second and Third Hand Smoke

Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and about 70 that are cancer causing.  Since 1964, approximately 2,500,000 nonsmokers have died from health problems related to second-hand smoke exposure alone. There is NO safe level of tobacco smoke exposure.

Second-hand smoke is a mixture of 2 forms of smoke that come from burning tobacco.  Mainstream smoke: The smoke exhaled by a smoker.  Sidestream smoke: Smoke from the lit end of a cigarette, pipe, cigar, or tobacco burning device such as a hookah.  Second-hand smoke harms children and adults, and the only way to fully protect nonsmokers is to eliminate smoking in all homes, worksites, and public places.  There is no risk-free level of second-hand smoke exposure; even brief exposure can be harmful to one’s health.  Some effects of exposer to children are: Ear infections, more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory problems (for example – coughing, sneezing, bronchitis, pneumonia), and a greater risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).  Some possible health effects in adults are: Heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and many other respiratory problems.

Third-hand smoke is generally considered to be residual nicotine and other chemicals lift on a variety of surfaces by tobacco smoke.  This residue is thought to react with common indoor pollutants to sometimes create a toxic mix.  This toxic mix of third-hand smoke can contain cancer-causing substances posing a potential health hazard to nonsmokers who are exposed to it.  The third-hand smoke on floors, clothes, or toys, containing toxins can gradually build up to more dangerous levels in the body. Children are especially at risk because they breathe in the toxins more rapidly with their small developing lungs or they can ingest them.

Below are some measures to help avoid the harmful effects of second-hand and third-hand smoke:

  • Never smoke or allow someone else to smoke in your home or car; even with the windows down.
  • If you smoke, wear a shirt or jacket that can left outside after you smoke and wash your hands. Wash objects often that may harbor any smoke residue.
  • Choose a childcare facility that has a tobacco free policy or rule.
  • If your friends or relatives smoke and want to hold your child, inform them how third-hand smoke can be harmful, especially to small children.  Then kindly ask them to wash their hands and wear smoke-free clothes.
  • Avoid places that have any odor or residue of smoke.April Smoking Article