Secondhand Smoke - It Takes Your Breath Away

Secondhand Smoke is unhealthy...

Secondhand smoke is a dangerous combination of the smoke from the burning end of a cigarette, pipe or cigar, and the smoke exhaled by a smoker. This mixture contains more than 4,000 substances, including 40 that are known to cause cancer. Each year, an estimated 3,000 American nonsmokers die from lung cancer caused by secondhand smoke.

Secondhand smoke causes irritation of the eyes, nose and throat. It also irritates the lungs, causing coughing and excess phlegm.

For pregnant women...

A pregnant woman who is exposed to secondhand smoke has a greater chance of having a more difficult delivery; having a smaller than average baby; and, having a sick baby.

And, particularly, for children...

While secondhand smoke is dangerous for nonsmoking, healthy adults, it is even more so for babies and children whose lungs are still developing. Infants and young children of parents who smoke are more likely to have lower respiratory tract infections, such as pneumonia and bronchitis. They are more likely to suffer from middle ear infections, sore throats and colds. And, secondhand smoke can cause youngsters with asthma or allergies to have longer and more severe attacks. Babies whose mothers smoked during pregnancy as well as babies exposed to secondhand smoke during their first year have an increased risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

If You Don't Smoke....

No one, adult or child, should have to breathe someone else's smoke:

  • Don't allow smoking in your home or car, particularly if pregnant women, infants, young children or people with health and breathing problems are present. This includes family members, visitors, babysitters and others who work in your home.
  • Ensure that children learn and play in smoke-free environments. The New York State Clean Indoor Air Act bans all tobacco, including cigarettes, pipes, cigars, snuff and chewing tobacco, on the grounds of all public and private pre-schools, nursery schools, elementary schools and secondary schools during school hours and school activities. Work with the providers, parent/teacher associations, school boards and administrators to support this law.

If You Smoke

  • First, try to quit. If you must smoke, there are things you can do to protect the people around you:
  • Don't smoke around pregnant women, infants and young children or people with breathing problems.
  • Keep your home smoke-free. Go outside to smoke. If you must smoke indoors, limit smoking to a single room with an open window.
  • Don't smoke in a car if there are others with you.

...Think About Quitting

Finally, give serious thought to quitting. You'll feel better, and so will your family, friends and co-workers, and a lot of people you don't even know who are breathing your secondhand smoke. For help in stopping, call New York State Smokers' Quitline at 1-866-NYQUITS (1-866-697-8487). It's a free confidential service to help you become smoke-free.

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