Health Effects of Tobacco

Clearing the air on second-hand smoke

What is second-hand smoke?

Second-hand smoke is:

1) The smoke that burns off the tip of a cigarette.
2) The smoke breathed out by a smoker after puffing on a cigarette.

Is second-hand smoke dangerous?

Yes, second-hand smoke contains many of the same hazardous chemicals that smokers inhale. You might be surprised to learn that the levels of some chemicals are actually higher in second-hand smoke.

Second-hand smoke can cause a range of health problems to the people exposed to it.

It is especially dangerous to children, babies and pregnant women.

The health risks of second-hand smoke to:


People who are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke can develop many of the same health problems smokers do. This includes trouble breathing, higher rates of lung cancer and heart disease, as well as a higher chance of having a stroke or heart attack.

Babies and children

Second-hand smoke is most dangerous to babies and children.

This smoke can increase a baby’s odds of having breathing problems like asthma, as well as having ear and lung infections. Second-hand smoke around a baby also increases its chances of growing up to develop leukemia, lymphomas or brain tumours. Second-hand smoke increases the possibility of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Children exposed to second-hand smoke can suffer from bronchitis, wheezing and pneumonia, as well as other breathing problems.

Pregnant women

Pregnant women need to be careful about second-hand smoke because it can increase their chances of a miscarriage, a premature birth or health complications for the baby.


Believe it or not, studies show that second-hand smoke increases the chances that a beloved dog, cat, bird or other household pet will develop cancer.

How to get rid of second-hand smoke:

  • If you need to smoke, make sure to do it away from loved ones by going outdoors
  • Make your home and car smoke-free places
  • Start on your journey to quit smoking!