Second-Hand Smoke

Second-hand smoke is tobacco smoke that affects a non-smoker. Second-hand smoke can come directly from a cigarette or other lit tobacco; it may also be exhaled by a person smoking.

Second-hand smoke is sometimes referred to as environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), involuntary smoking, or passive smoking.

Second-hand smoke contains the same cancer-causing and lung-damaging chemicals that affect smokers. Repeated exposure to second-hand smoke over many years can cause damage to a non-smoker's lungs that is similar to that of a smoker's.

Second-hand smoke is the most important risk factor for cancer among non-smokers, far greater than other known cancer-causing substances. Second-hand smoke is most harmful to:

  • The spouse and any child of a person who smokes, or anyone who lives with someone who smokes.
  • A developing fetus, if the pregnant woman smokes.
  • People who spend most of their time in confined areas that are filled with tobacco smoke.

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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