The Smoke-Free Environments Law Project
provided an overview of articles and studies exploring the health effects of secondhand smoke and furthermore, the economic impacts of smoke-free policies and laws.
Secondhand smoke—also known as environmental tobacco smoke—is a mixture of gases and fine particles that includes—
- Smoke from a burning cigarette, cigar, or pipe tip
- Smoke that has been exhaled or breathed out by the person or people smoking
- At least 250 toxic chemicals, including more than 50 that can cause cancer
Health Effects: Children
In children, secondhand smoke causes—
- Ear infections
- More frequent and severe asthma attacks
- Respiratory symptoms (e.g., coughing, sneezing, shortness of breath)
- Respiratory infections
- A greater risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
In U.S. children aged 18 months or younger, secondhand smoke exposure is responsible for an estimated—
- 150,000–300,000 new cases of bronchitis and pneumonia each year
- 7,500–15,000 hospitalizations annually
Health Effects: Adults
In adults who have never smoked, secondhand smoke can cause—
- Heart disease and/or
- Lung cancer
- For nonsmokers, breathing secondhand smoke has immediate harmful effects on the cardiovascular system that can increase the risk for heart attack. People who already have heart disease are at especially high risk.
- Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their heart disease risk by 25–30%.
- Secondhand smoke exposure causes an estimated 46,000 heart disease deaths annually among adult nonsmokers in the United States.
- Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their lung cancer risk by 20–30%.
- Secondhand smoke exposure causes an estimated 3,400 lung cancer deaths annually among adult nonsmokers in the United States.
There is no risk-free level of contact with secondhand smoke; even brief exposure can be harmful to health.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Michigan, and exposure to secondhand smoke is the second leading cause of death.
About 23% of Michigan residents are current smokers and nearly 70% want to quit smoking.
Environmental (secondhand) smoke (SHS) exposure is the second leading cause of preventable death in Michigan, right behind tobacco use. 1,935 Michigan citizens died in 1999 from breathing secondhand smoke (SHS).
SHS kills a minimum of 53,000 nonsmoking Americans each year from cancer & heart disease.
Workplace exposure to secondhand cause more disease & death than other toxins combined.
Even 30 minutes of SHS exposure dramatically increases the short-term risk of heart attack due to the immediate effect that SHS has on the cardiovascular system of nonsmokers.
A half-hour of breathing SHS “activates” blood platelets, making them sticky & starting the process of “Atherosclerosis” (which is the blockage of the heart’s arteries).
Nonsmokers regularly exposed to SHS suffer death rates 30% higher than that of unexposed nonsmokers.
The Surgeon General Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), National Institute for Occupational Health & Safety (NIOSH), Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA), National Academy of Sciences, International Agency for Research on Cancer, & National Toxicology Program ALL conclude that SHS is a significant health risk for the individual & is a major public health concern.
Secondhand Smoke Video
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