Secondhand Smoke: Passive but Deadly
Environmental tobacco smoke. Secondhand smoke. Passive smoke. No matter what you call it – it is deadly for children, adults, and even pets.
Secondhand smoke, also known as Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) is a mixture of the smoke given off by the burning end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar, as well as the smoke exhaled from the lungs of smokers.
Did you know that secondhand smoke has been found to be the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States? Today, secondhand smoke is a public health issue responsible for more than 53,000 U.S. deaths each year – one tobacco-exposed non-smoker dies for every eight smokers who die.
Secondhand smoke affects both adults and children. Infants exposed to secondhand smoke are at danger for respiratory diseases, ear infections, asthma and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Even pets can suffer from emphysema as a result of being exposed to secondhand smoke.
The Environmental Protection Agency classifies secondhand smoke as a Group A carcinogen, the most toxic substance known to cause cancer in humans.
How can You Reduce Exposure to Secondhand Smoke?
- Don’t allow smoking in your home or car, and try to avoid smoke in other people’s homes and cars. Ask family and friends to smoke outside. Try saying something like,
- “I know it’s hard when you don’t smoke, but I know you care about our health. I’d like to ask you to smoke outside from now on. I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but this is really important.” or
- “Cigarette smoke is really bad for my child’s asthma (my husband’s heart condition, my allergies). Would you mind not smoking right now? I’d really appreciate it.”
- If smoking indoors cannot be avoided, increase ventilation in the area where smoking takes place, and/or move to another room. Open windows or use exhaust fans.
- Eat at smoke-free restaurants and use smoke-free businesses.
Download the Training Manual here.
Preventing Tobacco Use in Rentals and Condos
For information on how to eliminate the use of tobacco in rental units and condos, visit the Tobacco & Multiple Use Housing page.
There is information on policies, implementations and other sources of information.
Encourage family members and friends to quit. Share the toll-free statewide Tobacco Quit Line telephone number with them. They can call and speak to a specially trained counselor about ways to successfully quit. They can also receive a personalized plan and materials in the mail. The Quit Line telephone number is 1-800-QUIT-NOW (7848-669). You can also call us for referrals to local quitting tobacco support groups and classes.
For more information and resources related to tobacco prevention, cessation, and local Summit County efforts, please contact the Summit County Health Department at 435-333-1500.