Secondhand smoke

Quick Facts

  • Second-hand smoke (SHS) (also referred to as “environmental tobacco smoke” or “tobacco smoke pollution”) contains cancer-causing chemicals, and these chemicals are inhaled and absorbed by nonsmokers and smokers.
  • Traces of carcinogens and other toxins are found in the blood, urine, saliva and breast milk of non-smokers, even after limited exposure to SHS.
  • SHS exposure is a cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Estimates indicate that more than 300 non-smokers die each year in Canada from SHS-related lung cancer.
  • SHS increases the risk of ischemic (coronary) heart disease in nonsmokers.  Estimates indicate that more than 700 Canadians will die each year from coronary heart disease as a result of exposure to SHS.
  • Adult non-smokers living with smokers increase their risk of heart disease by about 25%.
  • SHS causes diseases of the lower respiratory tract, respiratory irritation, middle ear disease and worsened asthma in children.
  • In 2006, 14% of Albertans and 15% of Canadians were exposed to SHS in their homes.
  • In 2004/2005, 25% of Alberta youth in grades 5 to 9 were exposed to SHS in their home.
  • A large proportion of workplaces have some form of smoking restriction.
  • In 2006, most Canadians and Albertans felt that there should be some form of smoking restriction

Source: Tobacco Basics Handbook Third Edition, 2008.  Alberta Health Services.

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