Welcome to Healthy Dudley. This is the new public health website.

Secondhand smoke

About secondhand smoke

The NHS has lots of information on secondhand smoke

Like a lot of people, you may think that other people’s tobacco smoke is simply a bit unpleasant. But it is much worse than that. Secondhand smoke is harmful to health.

Secondhand smoke comes from the tip of a cigarette and the smoke that is breathed back out by the smoker. Wherever people smoke, there is secondhand smoke in the air although you might not notice it because it is almost invisible and odourless.

Even if you open a window, secondhand smoke will still be present in a room after two and a half hours! Even if you can’t see or smell any smoke, it’s probably still there. Smoking in a car is even worse because all of the smoke is concentrated into a small space.

People that breathe secondhand smoke are at risk of the same diseases as smokers, including cancer and heart disease, because secondhand smoke contains 4,000 toxic chemicals.

It is estimated that secondhand smoke causes thousands of deaths each year.

Secondhand smoke and children

Young people are particularly vulnerable to secondhand smoke because their bodies are still developing. They can get breathing problems, middle ear infections and asthma attacks. And they are more likely to have to go to hospital in their first year of life.

Pregnant women exposed to secondhand smoke can pass on the harmful chemicals to their babies.

Tips for keeping your home and car smokefree

  • Make smoking an outdoor activity
  • Let your family and friends know that your house is smokefree
  • Get rid of any ashtrays
  • Never smoke in any room that your child uses
  • Never smoke in the car, even with the window open – for every cigarette you smoke in the car, your child will inhale up to half of the chemicals in that cigarette
  • When making short journeys try to smoke before or after you reach your destination
  • On longer journeys plan your route and make comfort stops

Secondhand smoke and pets

Secondhand smoke affects pets too. Pets, just like humans, can be affected by secondhand smoke.

And your pets don’t just suffer the ill-effects of inhaling secondhand smoke. Particle matter within secondhand smoke also settles on their fur and is ingested by them during grooming.

Prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke will eventually take its toll on pets, who may go on to suffer the pain and distress of chronic breathing difficulties or cancer.