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How much less dangerous is breathing smoke from burning wood and coal compare to smoking tobacco?
Edit: Sorry. I should have made the question clearer.
If this were an experiment, it would be set up like this. Subject 1 is a control, so he is exposed to smoke from burning tobacco for a year. Subject 2 is exposed to smoke from burning maple leaves for a year. Subject 3 is exposed to smoke from burning pine needles for a year. The other subjects continue in this fashion, being exposed to smoke from many different sources. The rats are examined for lung cancer through this year and for the remainder of their lives. What would the expect results of this experiment be?
(at an epidemiological scale)
WHO on tobacco
more than one billion smokers worldwide…
Tobacco kills nearly 6 million people each year.
WHO on indoor air pollution
Around 3 billion people still cook and heat their homes using solid fuels in open fires and leaky stoves. About 2.7 billion burn biomass (wood, animal dung, crop waste) and a further 0.4 billion use coal…
Nearly 2 million people a year die prematurely from illness attributable to indoor air pollution due to solid fuel use.
1. The direct danger to human health
Several clinical types of research have proved that regular smoking can cause many serious health disorders. Some of the dangerous health issues related to smoking are:
- Lung cancer: Chain smokers are at greater risk of developing lung cancer. Carcinogenic particles present in the smoke is responsible for the development of cancer of not only lungs but also that of throat, esophagus, and larynx.
- Autoimmune disorder: regular smoking increases the vulnerability to infection and other diseases in human because it curbs the immune system of the body.
- Type 2 diabetes: according to a recent study, it has been finding out that regular smokers are 30-40% at greater risk of suffering from type 2 diabetes as compared to the nonsmokers.
- Premature deaths: As chances of getting health disorder including cancer, vascular disease and respiratory problems increases, premature deaths in humans can take place.
- Heart attack and stroke: smoking constricts blood vessels due to which the circulation of blood to the heart, brain and other organs restricts. Aso result, chances of getting a heart attack and stroke increases.
What to know about a weed smoker's lungs
Like smoking tobacco, smoking weed or cannabis can also have damaging effects on the lungs, although research on the subject is not as clear-cut.
Smoking is one of the biggest threats to lung health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that cigarette smoking is responsible for over 480,000 deaths in the United States each year.
Smoking cigarettes can have a number of negative effects on a person’s lungs. These include:
- changing the function of the lungs
- impacting the lungs’ structure
- increasing the risk of a number of serious medical conditions, including cancer
Smoking cannabis can also cause damage to the lungs. This because the smoke from cannabis contains many of the same toxins, irritants, and carcinogens as tobacco smoke.
In this article, we look at the effects of smoking cannabis on the lungs and compare them to the effects of smoking tobacco.
Share on Pinterest Photo editing by Lauren Azor Catherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images
There is mixed evidence on the effects of cannabis smoke on the lungs. This is because of a relative lack of literature combined with concurrent tobacco smoking and the reports of conflicting outcomes.
Coughing and sputum
One study states that cannabis smoke can cause symptoms, such as increased coughing and sputum production, similar to those found in people who smoke tobacco.
Another study states that the frequency of chronic cough, sputum, and wheezing was similar between cannabis smokers and tobacco smokers.
The American Lung Association states that these symptoms arise due to cannabis smoke injuring the cell linings of the large airways.
Swelling and inflammation in the bronchial tubes cause bronchitis. Acute bronchitis usually clears up on its own, while chronic bronchitis is persistent and may never go away.
A person with this condition usually experiences the below symptoms:
The American Lung Association says that cannabis smoke can cause a person to develop chronic bronchitis. A 2016 study also stated that smoking cannabis has links with symptoms of chronic bronchitis.
There is differing evidence regarding the association between cannabis smoking and lung cancer.
One 2013 study stated that people who used cannabis heavily were at an increased risk of developing lung cancer.
Another study from 2012 outlines that cannabis smoke contains carcinogens, which can cause cancer.
However, the study adds that there is no evidence that suggests that light or moderate cannabis smoking leads to an increased risk for the development of either lung or upper airway cancer.
However, the same study states that the evidence is mixed when it comes to the cancer risks of heavy or long-term cannabis use.
A 2014 study suggests there is biological plausibility of cannabis smoking as a risk for the development of lung cancer. However, it adds that it is difficult to link cannabis smoking and cancer development conclusively.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released their report on the health effects of cannabinoids. They found no statistical association between cannabis smoking and lung, head, and neck cancers.
The report also found limited or no evidence regarding any links between smoking cannabis smoking and:
- esophageal cancer
- malignant gliomas
- penile cancer
- anal cancer
- bladder cancer
- non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Kaposi’s sarcoma
There are a couple of other ways a person can consume cannabis that do not involve smoking the substance.
A person can consume cannabis in edible form, which is the name for foods and drinks infused with cannabis.
Edibles deliver the cannabis to the body through the mouth and digestive system. People often see these products as an alternative to smoking or vaping.
Edibles can have varying effects on individuals. Research suggests that they can be a more potent method of taking cannabis than inhaling the substance.
The study showed that the effects from edibles took around 1 hour to kick in but lasted for 6 or more hours. It also showed that, in contrast, the effects of smoking or vaping tended to last 1–4 hours.
Many people inhale vaporized cannabis as an alternative to smoking it. The vaporizer heats the cannabis and extracts the cannabinoids, converting them into vapor, which a person then inhales.
There are several different types of vaporizers that use alternative methods to heat cannabis.
As scientists do not know the long-term safety of vaping it is not advisable for people to use this method for cannabis consumption.
There are over 7,000 different chemicals in tobacco smoke, which all affect the lungs in a variety of ways. Some of these chemicals are carcinogenic, meaning they may cause cancer, while others can damage cells or trigger scarring and inflammation.
Due to the abundance of chemicals, cigarette smoke can affect the lungs in many ways, including the below.
Changes to the physical appearance of the lungs
Cigarette smoke can cause the lungs to change their appearance drastically.
People commonly refer to the black pigmented material in cigarette smoke as tar. This tar can change the color of the lungs from pink to a grey or black color.
Cigarette smoke can also cause the lungs to become hyperinflated and develop patches of inflammation. This may also cause the diaphragm to lose muscle, which also changes the shape of the lungs.
Increases the production of mucus
Smoking often causes the lungs to produce more mucus. This occurs because the smoke damages the epithelial cells that line a person’s airway.
This damage then triggers goblet cell production, which leads to the increased production of mucus in the lungs.
This increased level of mucus in the lung has associations with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
COPD includes two main conditions: emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
These conditions can lead to:
- trouble breathing
- an ongoing cough
- a tight chest
- wheezing when breathing
COPD is a progressive disease, which means that the symptoms get worse over time. It is also the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S.
There are tiny hairs in the airways called cilia, which prevent dirt and mucus from getting into the lungs.
Smoking tobacco can destroy these cilia, allowing a number of these irritants to build up in the lungs.
This can then lead to the person developing a chronic cough that people sometimes refer to as “smoker’s cough.” This is common in long-term or daily smokers.
Lowers oxygen levels
Tobacco smoke contains carbon monoxide. Therefore, when a person smokes tobacco, the carbon monoxide displaces the oxygen in their blood.
This deprives the organs of the oxygen they require. Organs and other parts of the body need oxygen to function properly, so it is important that a person’s oxygen levels do not drop too far.
The lungs also contain small blood vessels called capillaries, which allow the oxygen in the lungs to pass into the bloodstream and travel to the organs and other parts of the body.
Smoking can damage the capillaries. This can lead to a person developing low oxygen levels in their blood, as less oxygen is able to pass through the damaged capillaries and into the bloodstream.
A high risk of lung cancer
Cigarette smoking is the number one risk for lung cancer. It has links with 80–90% of lung cancer deaths in the U.S.
Of the 7,000 chemicals present in cigarette smoke, many are poisonous. Around 70 of these chemicals are also carcinogens.
People who smoke cigarettes are 15–30 times more likely to get lung cancer than those who do not smoke.
A person who only smokes a few cigarettes each day or smokes occasionally is still increasing their risk of lung cancer.
The risk increases the more cigarettes a person smokes and the longer that they continue to smoke.
Exposure to Tobacco Smoke Causes Immediate Damage: A Report of the Surgeon General
“How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease” 1 is the 30th tobacco-related Surgeon General's report issued since 1964. It describes the specific mechanisms and pathways by which tobacco smoke damages the human body and leads to disease and death. While previous Surgeon General's reports on tobacco have focused on which diseases are caused by tobacco smoke, this report explains in detail how tobacco smoke damages every cell in the body.
The 700-page report incorporates the contributions of 64 health experts its messages are simple and powerful. The report concludes that any exposure to tobacco smoke, even occasional smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, causes immediate damage to your body. That damage can lead to serious illness or death. The report describes in detail how tobacco smoke reaches every organ in the body and how it affects those organs.
Tobacco smoke is a toxic mix of more than 7,000 chemicals and compounds. These chemicals and compounds reach a person's lungs quickly every time the person inhales. The blood then carries the toxicants to every organ in the body.
Exposure to tobacco smoke quickly damages blood vessels throughout the body and makes blood more likely to clot. The chemicals in tobacco smoke damage the delicate lining of the lungs and can cause permanent damage that reduces the ability of the lungs to exchange air efficiently. This can ultimately lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, including emphysema.
Many Americans have some degree of coronary heart disease, and often they don't know it until they experience chest pain or present to the hospital. This report found that even brief exposures to tobacco smoke harm blood vessel linings and increase the likelihood of blood clotting. In people with coronary heart disease, this effect could trigger a heart attack.
Chemicals in tobacco smoke cause inflammation and cell damage. The body makes white blood cells to respond to injuries, infections, and cancers. White blood cell counts tend to stay high while a person continues to smoke, as the body is constantly trying to fight against the damage being caused by smoking.
The chemicals and toxicants in tobacco smoke also damage a person's DNA, which can lead to cancer. At the same time, however, smoking can weaken a body's ability to fight cancer. With any cancer𠅎ven a cancer not related to tobacco use—smoking can lessen the benefits of chemotherapy. Exposure to tobacco smoke can, therefore, both cause cancer and make it difficult to stop tumors from growing.
Smoking also makes it harder for people with diabetes to regulate their blood sugar. That's why smokers with diabetes have a higher risk of kidney disease, peripheral arterial disease, eye disease, and nerve damage that can result in amputations, poor vision, and even blindness.
It is never too late to quit smoking. When smokers quit, the risk for a heart attack drops sharply after just one year of not smoking. Stroke risk can fall to about the same level as a nonsmoker's risk after two to five years of being smoke-free. Risks for cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are cut in half five years after quitting smoking. And the risk of dying from lung cancer drops by half after 10 years of being smoke-free.
The report confirms that tobacco smoke is addicting, and determines that cigarettes are designed for addiction. Nicotine is the key chemical compound responsible for the powerful addicting effects of cigarettes, but many ingredients (e.g., sugar and moisture enhancers) are added to reduce harshness and improve taste and consumer appeal. Chemical ingredients (e.g., ammonia) convert the nicotine into what is called 𠇏ree nicotine,” which more quickly crosses the blood brain barrier. Ventilation holes in filters make smoke easier to inhale deeply into the lungs and also convert more of the nicotine into free nicotine. These design features work together to enhance the addictive “kick” and pleasure a smoker feels. Today's cigarettes deliver nicotine and chemicals more quickly to the brain.
Evidence suggests that psychosocial, biological, and genetic factors may also play a role in tobacco addiction. In addition, adolescents may be more sensitive to nicotine and more easily addicted than adults. This helps explain why about 1,000 teenagers become daily smokers each day, and why it often takes several attempts to quit. 2
Tobacco use in the U.S. has declined by almost half since the first Surgeon General's report on tobacco was released in 1964. However, since 2003, smoking rates have not declined. One in five American adults continues to smoke, as do one in five adolescents. Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. and is responsible for more than 440,000 premature deaths each year.
Fortunately, there are things we can do. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has developed an action plan called 𠇎nding the Tobacco Epidemic: A Tobacco Control Strategic Action Plan,” 3 with the goal to reach the Healthy People 2020 4 objective of reducing the adult smoking rate from 18.4% to 12.0% by 2020.
We know what works. When we increase the price of tobacco, smoking rates decline. When we enact smoke-free policies, we reduce exposure to secondhand smoke, prompt smokers to quit, change social norms, support healthy decisions, and reduce heart attacks. And when we educate the public with aggressive media campaigns, we inform them of the risk of smoking, encourage tobacco users to quit, and prevent young people from starting.
Evidence shows that smoking rates decline when states implement comprehensive tobacco-control programs, and the longer the investment, the greater and faster the impact. For example, California is home to the longest-running state tobacco-control program in the country. Lung cancer incidence has been declining four times faster in that state than in the rest of the nation. California has the potential to become the first state in which lung cancer is no longer the leading cause of cancer death.
It is important for those of us in public health to note that doctors and other clinicians can play an important role in helping people quit smoking. We know that patients who are advised by their doctors to quit smoking have a 66% higher success rate. We have a responsibility to encourage every patient to stop smoking and to tell them ourselves, not rely on others to do it.
What are the Effects of Smoking Pipe Tobacco Around Others?
Smoking pipe tobacco is not only harmful to the health of the user, but it is also a serious health risk to anyone exposed to its smoke. Secondhand smoke is classified as a known human carcinogen because it contains many of the harmful chemicals that are in the smoke directly inhaled by smokers.
Children exposed to secondhand smoke have an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome, ear infections, respiratory infections, and far more frequent and severe asthma attacks. Adults exposed to secondhand smoke have increased risk of heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and reduced fertility. Pregnant women are especially susceptible to the harms of secondhand smoke, because it can cause pregnancy complications such as low birth weights and preterm birth.
Since 1964, approximately 2.5 million nonsmokers have died from health problems caused by exposure to secondhand smoke. Opening windows and using air filters does not protect others from inhaling secondhand smoke. The only way to protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke is for smokers to stop smoking. 6
There are also numerous health hazards associated with exposure to thirdhand smoke. Thirdhand smoke is residue from tobacco smoke that stays on surfaces and objects, like clothing, bedding, and furniture. The tobacco residue may remain on surfaces and objects for several months.
Children are most susceptible to thirdhand smoke. Children breathe faster and inhale more than adults, have greater hand-to-mouth contact, and absorb more chemicals through their skin. Exposed children are more likely to have coughing fits associated with mucus production.
Research also suggests that thirdhand smoke causes genetic damage that can increase the risk of developing cancer in the future. For example, studies in mice found increased risk for lung cancer and liver damage from thirdhand smoke. 7 To learn more about thirdhand smoke, please see here.
Difference Between Nicotine and Tobacco
Cigarette smoking is injurious for your health is a slogan that all of us read and see everywhere around us. This is because cigarette is primarily composed of tobacco leaves and inhaling its smoke causes a lot of harmful effects to our organs. Doctors have found a correlation between cigarette smoking and lung cancer, in addition to many other diseases being caused by this dreadful habit. Tobacco is also chewed, in addition to smoking, and is equally harmful for human beings as it causes oral cancers. There is a word that is used in connection with the habit of smoking, and that is nicotine. Many people, even those who use tobacco, are unaware of the relation between nicotine and tobacco. This article takes a close look at the difference between these two related products.
Tobacco is a plant that has been used since time immemorial by people to derive intoxication. This is because of the presence of ingredients in the leaves of tobacco plant. Tobacco, once it has been prepared from the dried leaves of the tobacco plant, becomes a drug that is abused by human beings, to get intoxicated. Two of the most common ways to consume tobacco are chewing and smoking. Tobacco contains lots of harmful ingredients and nicotine is one of them.
Nicotine is a harmful chemical that is found in tobacco. It is addictive in nature and makes one habitual of smoking or chewing of tobacco. Nicotine is one of the most abused and harmful ingredient of tobacco. This chemical is antiherbivore which is why it was initially used to kill insects in the form of a pesticide. It is stimulating in nature, and when an individual smokes or chews tobacco, he receives a kind of kick or high that is not available from any other product. Nicotine can be quite pleasing and stimulating when consumed in small doses, but it can be fatal when one consumes it in high dose. In fact, naturally occurring nicotine in tomatoes and eggplants is not harmful for human beings at all as it is found in very small quantities. Of all the intoxicating products, it is the addiction of nicotine that is believed to be the hardest to break. This is why people find it hard to give up on their habits of smoking and chewing.
Nicotine vs Tobacco
• Tobacco is a naturally occurring plant in the genus of nicotiana while nicotine is one of the active ingredients in tobacco.
• Nicotine is also found in other substances such as tomatoes and eggplants.
• In low quantities, nicotine acts as a stimulant but heavy doses can be fatal for human beings.
• It is nicotine in tobacco that is believed to be the major cause of lung and oral cancers.
• Nicotine is highly addictive and giving up on habit of tobacco chewing and smoking are considered most difficult.
• Tobacco contains many harmful ingredients and nicotine is only one of them.
• Nicotine is anti-herbivore which is why it was earlier used in pesticides.
How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease: A Report of the Surgeon General.
This chapter summarizes the state of knowledge about the chemistry and toxicology of cigarette smoke and provides data relevant to the evaluations and conclusions presented in the disease-specific chapters of this report. The literature reviewed in this chapter is limited to manufactured cigarettes and does not include publications on handmade (“roll your own”) cigarettes or other products that contain nicotine. The next section, 𠇌hemistry,” includes a brief description of technologies used by cigarette manufacturers in a limited number of cigarette brands marketed as “reduced-exposure” or “lower-yield” products. These commercial products have not been met with widespread consumer acceptance. The following section, 𠇋iomarkers,” focuses on the manufactured tobacco-burning cigarette consumed by the majority of smokers in the United States and elsewhere.
The section on 𠇌hemistry” describes the chemical components of cigarette smoke and addresses aspects of product design that alter the components of cigarette smoke and factors affecting delivery of smoke to the smoker. In most cases, the data reported for chemical levels in mainstream smoke were derived under standard smoking conditions described by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). These standard conditions are puff volume of 35 milliliters (mL), two-second puff duration, one-minute puff frequency, and butt length defined as either 23 millimeters (mm) for nonfilter cigarettes or the length of the filter overwrap paper plus 3 mm. When alternative smoking regimens are used, levels of potentially harmful substances in smoke emissions usually differ from those measured under standard conditions. (For more details, see livery of Chemical Constituents into Tobacco Smoke” later in this chapter.) When people smoke, they do not use the puff volume and puff frequency programmed into smoking machines, and smoking habits vary significantly from person to person and cigarette to cigarette. Consequently, actual exposures to and doses of components of smoke cannot be derived from values obtained with machine smoking.
The section on 𠇋iomarkers” offers an overview of in vitro and in vivo data on genotoxicity and cytotoxicity and a review of the literature on animal bioassays, in addition to general concepts of biomarkers of exposure, of biologically effective dose, and of potential harm, as an introduction to more detailed descriptions of biomarkers in subsequent chapters of this Surgeon General’s report.
Cigarette smoke is a complex mixture of chemical compounds that are bound to aerosol particles or are free in the gas phase. Chemical compounds in tobacco can be distilled into smoke or can react to form other constituents that are then distilled to smoke. Researchers have estimated that cigarette smoke has 7,357 chemical compounds from many different classes (Rodgman and Perfetti 2009). In assessing the nature of tobacco smoke, scientists must consider chemical composition, concentrations of components, particle size, and particle charge (Dube and Green 1982). These characteristics vary with the cigarette design and the chemical nature of the product.
Fowles and Dybing (2003) suggested an approach to identify the chemical components in tobacco smoke with the greatest potential for toxic effects. They considered the risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease, and heart disease. Using this approach, these investigators found that 1,3-butadiene presented by far the most significant cancer risk acrolein and acetaldehyde had the greatest potential to be respiratory irritants and cyanide, arsenic, and the cresols were the primary sources of cardiovascular risk. Other chemical classes of concern include other metals, N-nitrosamines, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). This evaluation, along with the Hoffmann list of biologically active chemicals (Hoffmann and Hoffmann 1998), was used to select the chemicals reviewed in this chapter. Other chemical components with potential for harm will be identified as analysis of tobacco smoke becomes more complete and cigarette design and additives change.
Secondhand Smoke (SHS) Facts
Secondhand smoke is the combination of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette and the smoke breathed out by smokers. Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, of which hundreds are toxic and about 70 can cause cancer. 1,2,3,4
There is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure even brief exposure can be harmful to health. 1,2,6 Comprehensive smokefree policies have been successful in protecting those who do not smoke, and are the only way to fully protect their health. 1,2,7
In adults who have never smoked, secondhand smoke can cause:
- Heart disease
- For adults who do not smoke, breathing secondhand smoke has immediate harmful effects on the heart and blood vessels. 1,4,6
- Secondhand smoke causes nearly 34,000 premature deaths from heart disease each year in the United States among adults who do not smoke. 1
- People who do not smoke, but are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or at work, experience a 25-30% increase in their risk of developing heart disease. 1
- Secondhand smoke exposure causes more than 7,300 deaths from lung cancer among people who do not smoke. 1
- Each year, more than 8,000 deaths from stroke can be attributed to secondhand smoke. 1
Chronic diseases such as these are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. They may also increase risk with respect to other illnesses. 1
Health Effects in Infants and Children
- Smoking during pregnancy results in more than 1,000 infant deaths annually. 1
- Adults exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have newborns with lower birth weight, increasing the risk of health complications. 2
- Chemicals in secondhand smoke appear to affect the brain in ways that interfere with its regulation of infants&rsquo breathing. 2,3
- Infants who die from SIDS have higher concentrations of nicotine in their lungs and higher levels of cotinine than infants who die from other causes. 2,3
- Exposure to secondhand smoke causes multiple health problems in infants and young children, including: 1,2,3
- Ear infections
- Respiratory symptoms (coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath)
- Acute lower respiratory infections, such as bronchitis and pneumonia
- Measurements of blood serum cotinine (as a measure of secondhand exposure among people who do not smoke) show that exposure to secondhand smoke steadily decreased in the United States between 1988-2014. 5
- During 1988&ndash1991, almost 90 of every 100 (87.9%) people who did not smoke had measurable levels of cotinine. 5
- During 2007&ndash2008, about 40 of every 100 (40.1%) people who did not smoke had measurable levels of cotinine. 5
- During 2011&ndash2014, about 25 of every 100 (25.2%) people who did not smoke had measurable levels of cotinine. 5
- Decreasing cigarette smoking rates
- Increased awareness of the risks for secondhand smoke exposure
- The adoption of comprehensive smoke-free laws prohibiting smoking in workplaces and public places in many states and localities
- During 2013-2014, 58 million people who do not smoke were exposed to secondhand smoke. 5
Additional progress is being made as states and communities adopt comprehensive smokefree laws, but disparities in coverage of smokefree laws persists. Those of lower socioeconomic status and lower educational attainment remain less likely to be covered by smokefree laws in worksites, restaurants, and bars. 5 Additionally, private settings such as homes and vehicles remain major sources of exposure for some populations, including youth.
Comprehensive smokefree laws for all workplaces and public places &ndash without exception &ndash and smokefree rules for homes and vehicles can fully protect nonsmokers. These policies also can help prevent youth initiation and help those who currently smoke to quit. 3,4,5
Although the number of people who do not smoke but are exposed to secondhand smoke has declined, disparities in secondhand smoke exposure persist. 5
Non-Hispanic Black Americans people who live below the federal poverty level those who work in traditionally &ldquoblue collar&rdquo industries, service occupations, or construction people who live in multi-unit housing and children 3-11 years of age are more likely than other groups to be exposed to secondhand smoke. 5
- Reasons for these disparities may include
- Variations in smoking prevalence
- Variations in smokefree policy coverage
- Tobacco industry misinformation. According to a legal judgment, tobacco companies &ldquodeliberately deceived the American public about the health effects of secondhand smoke.&rdquo 9
- Prevalence of secondhand smoke exposure among non-Hispanic Black people who do not smoke (50.3%) is much higher compared with non-Hispanic white people (21.4%) and Americans of Mexican descent (20.0%). 5
- While secondhand smoke exposure among US youths in homes and vehicles significantly declined during 2011 through 2018, secondhand smoke exposure in homes among non-Hispanic black students did not change. 10
- Non-Hispanic Black middle and high school students have a higher prevalence of secondhand smoke exposure in the home (28.4%) and in vehicles (26.4%) than Hispanic (17.6%) and non-Hispanic other (14.0%) students. 10
- Between 2013-2014, prevalence of secondhand smoke exposure was higher among those who lived below the federal poverty level (47.9 %) than those who lived at or above the poverty level (21.2%).
- For adults who do not smoke, the workplace remains the source of most secondhand smoke exposure. 5
- Workers who do not smoke and live in states or municipalities without comprehensive smokefree policies were most likely to be frequently exposed to secondhand smoke. 12
- Workers in certain industries reported more frequent secondhand smoke exposure, especially those in outdoor work environments or other work settings unlikely to be covered by workplace smokefree protections. 12
- According to a survey, those working in industrial machinery or equipment repair had 65.1% prevalence of workplace secondhand smoke exposure, the highest out of all industries. 12
- The industry with the highest number of workers who do not smoke but reported exposure was construction, with 2.9 million exposed. 12
- Those who do not smoke and work in private worksites, restaurants, or bars in states with comprehensive workplace smokefree policies had significantly lower prevalence (8.6%) of frequent exposure to secondhand smoke than those in the same industry in states without comprehensive smokefree protections (12.2%). 12
- Children still have a higher prevalence of secondhand smoke exposure than adults, and most are exposed in the home. 5 In 2019, an estimated 6.7 million (25.3%) of middle and high school students reported secondhand smoke exposure in the home.
- 73% of children who lived with a person who smoked inside the home were exposed to secondhand smoke during 2013-2014, compared with those who did not (22.3%). 5
- Children who live in multi-unit housing are more likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke.
- An estimated 80 million people&mdashor 25% of the population&mdashin the United States live in multi-unit housing. 13
- Among children who live in homes in which no one smokes indoors, those children living in multi-unit housing such as apartments or condos have 45% higher cotinine levels than children living in single-family homes. 11
- Even when no one in the unit smokes, secondhand smoke can filter into other units via hallways, stairwells, and ventilation systems. 11
- Secondhand smoke exposure during 2013-2014 was higher among people who rented (38.6% their homes than those who owned their homes (19.2%). 5
Studies show that adoption of comprehensive smokefree policies:
- Reduces secondhand smoke exposure
- Reduces smoking and encourages people who smoke to quit
- Helps prevent smoking initiation
- Does not negatively impact the hospitality industry
- Results in high levels of compliance in the state or community in which the policies are applied
Find discussions of these benefits in greater depth on the following fact sheets:
Secondhand Tobacco Smoke (Environmental Tobacco Smoke)
At least 69 chemicals found in secondhand tobacco smoke are carcinogens.
What is secondhand tobacco smoke?
Secondhand tobacco smoke is the combination of the smoke given off by a burning tobacco product and the smoke exhaled by a smoker. It is also called environmental tobacco smoke, involuntary smoke, and passive smoke.
More than 7,000 chemicals have been identified in secondhand tobacco smoke. At least 69 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer, including arsenic, benzene, beryllium, chromium, and formaldehyde.
How are people exposed to secondhand smoke?
People can be exposed to secondhand smoke in homes, cars, the workplace, and public places. In the United States, the source of most secondhand smoke is from cigarettes, followed by pipes, cigars, and other tobacco products.
Which cancers are associated with secondhand smoke?
Inhaling secondhand smoke causes lung cancer in nonsmokers. Some research also suggests that secondhand smoke may increase the risk of breast cancer, nasal sinus cavity cancer, and nasopharyngeal cancer in adults and leukemia, lymphoma, and brain tumors in children, although more research is needed on this subject.
How can exposures to nonsmokers be reduced?
There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke even low levels of secondhand smoke can be harmful. In the United States, legislation has helped to reduce nonsmokers' exposure to secondhand smoke. Federal law bans smoking on all domestic airline flights, nearly all flights between the United States and foreign destinations, interstate buses, and most trains. Smoking is also banned in most federally owned buildings. Many state and local governments have also passed laws prohibiting smoking in public facilities, such as schools, hospitals, and airports, as well as private workplaces, including restaurants and bars.
Internationally, a growing number of nations require all workplaces, including bars and restaurants, to be smoke free.