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Effects of Second Hand Smoke

What's the Risk?

  • Because their bodies are developing, infants and young children are especially vulnerable to the poisons in secondhand smoke.1
  • Both babies whose mothers smoke while pregnant and babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke after birth are more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) than babies who are not exposed to cigarette smoke.1,2
  • Mothers who are exposed to secondhand smoke while pregnant are more likely to have lower birth weight babies, which makes babies weaker and increases the risk for many health problems.1
  • Babies whose mothers smoke while pregnant or who are exposed to secondhand smoke after birth have weaker lungs than other babies, which increases the risk for many health problems.1,2
  • Secondhand smoke exposure causes acute lower respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia in infants and young children.1,2
  • Secondhand smoke exposure causes children who already have asthma to experience more frequent and severe attacks.1,2
  • Secondhand smoke exposure causes respiratory symptoms, including cough, phlegm, wheezing, and breathlessness, among school-aged children.1,2
  • Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk for ear infections and are more likely to need an operation to insert ear tubes for drainage.1,2
  • Source:
  • Second hand smoke contains even more chemicals than smoke inhaled by someone smoking. That is over 7,000 chemicals.
  • Almost 50,000 deaths a year are linked to second hand smoke.
Surgeon General’s Report (2012). A Report of the Surgeon General; Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults.\

Effects of Second Hand Smoke on Pets

  • Smoking is not only tough on you, your friends and family; it’s also tough on your pets.
  • Pets can end up eating cigarette butts and breathing in second hand smoke.
  • Toxic particles from smoke stay on carpets and furniture, which can cling to your pet’s skin and fur.
  • Smoke exposure can lead to breathing problems, allergies, diarrhea, and many forms of cancer.

Canadian Cancer Society (2012).
Second-hand smoke hurts the ones you love.

Smoking & Pets Poster:

Effects of Second Hand Smoke on Children

  • The combination of smoke from the lit end of a cigarette and the smoke exhaled by someone smoking.

How much is too much?

  • Second hand smoke immediately affects the heart, blood vessels, and circulation in harmful ways.
  • Even brief exposure can set the cancer process in motion, and just one hour of exposure can increase stiffness in arteries.


What about second hand vapor?

  • Exhaled vapor is a mixture of water, propylene glycol, nicotine, and some cancer-causing agents.
  • Few studies have tested the health effects of second hand vapor, however, one study found that vapor increased the amount of particulate matter in indoor air. This is concerning because these fine particles can reach deep into the lungs and potentially cause respiratory irritation and difficulty breathing.