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Secondhand smoke is a mixture of smoke coming from the burning tips of cigarettes, pipes and cigars, and smoke exhaled by smokers.
- If you smoke, quit. Ask your health care provider for help if you need.
- Do not smoke — or allow smoking — in your house or car.
- Ask people not to smoke around you and your children.
- Check on the smoking policies of day care providers, schools and other caregivers.
- Teach your child to stay away from tobacco products and secondhand smoke.
Nonsmokers who are around secondhand smoke breathe in the chemicals from the tobacco smoke. Secondhand smoke causes death and disease in nonsmokers.
No amount of secondhand smoke is safe. The Environmental Protection Agency, National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer lists secondhand smoke as a known cause of cancer in people.
Secondhand smoke is a known cause of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), respiratory problems, ear infections and asthma attacks in infants and children. Secondhand smoke:
- causes between 150,000 to 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections (such as bronchitis and pneumonia) in infants and children younger than 18 months (This leads to between 7,500 and 15,000 hospital stays each year.)
- causes between 1,900 and 2,700 SIDS deaths in the U.S. each year
- puts children at an increased risk for ear infections
- can trigger asthma attacks or make asthma attacks worse.
Did you know?
Cigarette smoke has more than 4,000 chemical compounds. Research shows that secondhand smoke has more than 50 chemicals known to cause cancer.
Children are more exposed to secondhand smoke than adults. Among children aged 3 to 11 years old:
- nearly 60 percent (about 22 million children) is exposed to secondhand smoke
- about 25 percent lives with at least one smoker.
About 50 to 75 percent of children have detectable levels of cotinine (a chemical the body makes from nicotine) in their blood.