Secondhand smoke is the combination of smoke given off by the burning end of a tobacco product, and the smoke exhaled by a smoker. Also known as environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) or passive smoking, it can be as harmful to non-smokers as cigarettes are to smokers.
In the 1980s, studies were conducted on the effects of secondhand smoke, resulting in the Environmental Protection Agency’s classification of secondhand smoke as a Group A Carcinogen – the category for the most dangerous cancer-causing agents.
Secondhand smoke is a complex mixture of more than 4,000 chemicals, at least 60 of which are known to cause cancer.
Here are some important facts about secondhand smoke:
1. In Louisiana, approximately 1,000 children and adults die each year due to secondhand smoke exposure.
2. Breathing 30 minutes of secondhand smoke has the same effect as smoking a cigarette yourself.
3. Non-smoking spouses of smokers are 40% more likely to develop lung cancer and heart disease.
4. Secondhand smoke is estimated to cause 300,000 cases of bronchitis and pneumonia in children every year.
5. The long-term effects of secondhand smoke on non-smokers include lung disease, heart disease, upper respiratory disorders and death.
6. Each year, more than 3,000 non-smokers die of lung cancer, and at least 35,000 die from heart disease resulting from secondhand smoke.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Lung Association, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids