Second-Hand Smoke

It is a well-known fact that smoking is dangerous to your health. If you smoke but want to quit, there are many resources available to help you. If you are not ready to quit, it is important for you to take steps to prevent your children, family or friends from being exposed to your tobacco smoke.

Why is second-hand smoke dangerous?

  • Second-hand smoke results from the "sidestream" smoke that comes from the burning tip of a cigarette and "mainstream" smoke that is exhaled by the smoker.
  • There are over 4000 chemicals in second-hand smoke and more than 50 of them are known to cause cancer. Examples of these cancer-causing components include benzene, cadmium and arsenic.
  • Other chemicals include:
    • Carbon monoxide - the deadly gas that comes out of your car's tail pipe.
    • Formaldehyde - a chemical used to preserve dead animals.
    • Arsenic - a chemical used to kill bugs and weeds.
    • Cyanide - a gas used in warfare.
  • It is estimated that exposure to second-hand smoke causes between 110 and 7800 deaths per year in Canada, at least one-third of them in Ontario.
  • Exposure to second-hand smoke is related to leukaemia and lymphoma among adults, lung cancer in non-smokers, and heart disease.
  • Second-hand smoke is particularly harmful to babies and children.
  • Babies exposed to second-hand smoke are more likely to die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), also known as crib death.
  • Children exposed to second-hand smoke tend to have more middle ear infections.
  • Babies and children who are exposed to second-hand smoke are at a greater risk of developing pneumonia and bronchitis, and are more likely to need hospital care.
  • Exposure to second-hand smoke puts children at greater risk of developing asthma. Children with asthma may have more frequent and severe symptoms when exposed to second-hand smoke.
  • It is now known that exposure to second-hand smoke has an impact on a child’s attention, behaviour, and ability to reason and understand (cognition).
  • Ventilation provides no solution to the problem of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke. A ventilation system that clears out 100% of tobacco smoke does not exist.

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Why should homes and vehicles be smoke-free?

  • It is very important to make homes and vehicles smoke-free, especially when there are children and youth present.
  • Because children breathe at a faster rate than adults, they take in greater amounts of second-hand smoke which puts them at great risk of health effects.
  • Effective protection from second-hand smoke cannot be achieved by actions such as opening a window, smoking in another room, or using an air purifier.
  • Smoke-free Ride logoResearch has shown that second-hand smoke can remain in the home and in vehicles even if smoking took place days, weeks and months earlier.
  • Exposure to second-hand smoke in a vehicle is 23-times more toxic than in a house due to the smaller enclosed space.

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What can I do to protect others from second-hand smoke?

  • Smoking outside or asking others to smoke outside is the only way to avoid all the harmful effects of second-hand smoke in your home.

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What can I do about second-hand smoke in my multi-unit dwelling?

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