According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, Office on Smoking and Health, 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.
Most exposure to secondhand smoke occurs in homes and workplaces. Secondhand smoke exposure also continues to occur in public places such as restaurants and bars and in private vehicles.
Secondhand smoke has been classified as a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) by The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP), the U.S. Surgeon General, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Inhaling secondhand smoke causes lung cancer in nonsmoking adults and approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths occur each year among adult nonsmokers in the United States as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke according to the National Cancer Institute.
Secondhand smoke causes disease and premature death in nonsmoking adults and children and exposure to secondhand smoke has immediate harmful effects on a person’s heart and blood vessels. Children are also vulnerable and are at an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), ear infections, colds, lung diseases, and asthma.