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Secondhand Smoke in the Home

SHS causes instant harm to people who breathe it and even short exposure can be dangerous.1 When someone smokes in the home there is a large amount of SHS.  The SHS from every cigarette stays in the home and it can cause major health problems for anyone who lives there.

Simply smoking in another room will not remove the risk of SHS exposure for other people in the home.  Smoking anywhere in the home will pollute all the air in the home.  Smoke can go under doors and windows and through cracks.  Even if you open a window and use a fan, there will still be some SHS in the air. Air purifiers and air fresheners will not remove the poisons found in SHS.  Smoke from just one cigarette can stay in the home for hours.2

The best way to protect your family from the unhealthy effects of SHS in the home is to have a smoke-free home.  Do not allow anyone to smoke inside the home.   

en español
El Humo de Segunda Mano en el hogar

Secondhand Smoke in the Home Harms Children

Mothers who smoke or breathe SHS while pregnant are exposing their unborn baby to all the chemicals found in tobacco smoke.  Tobacco smoke will damage the tissues of the baby’s growing brain and lungs. This exposure can lead to several pregnancy problems including:

Most mothers know that it is not safe to smoke while pregnant.  Starting to smoke again, once the baby is born, is also dangerous.  Children’s lungs continue to develop for years after birth.  Breathing SHS as a child can cause severe health problems. 

Children who breathe SHS are more likely to:

Children with asthma are at an even greater risk when someone smokes around them.  Breathing SHS can trigger an asthma attack.  Some asthma attacks are bad enough that children have to visit the hospital.  Asthma attacks caused by breathing SHS can also be deadly.1

If anyone in your home smokes, quitting will protect everyone who lives there, especially children.


Secondhand Smoke in the Home Harms Pets

While much is often said about how tobacco smoke harms people, there is also evidence that dogs, cats, and other pets can be hurt by breathing SHS.  Pets that live with a smoker may eat cigarette or cigar butts that have been left within their reach.  Pets also breathe the SHS from their owner’s cigarettes. Find out more about how secondhand smoke harms pets.

You can Protect your pets by:

Creating Smokefree Homes

Reasons to Create a Smokefree Home

SHS causes death and disease
SHS in the home puts children at risk for bronchitis, pneumonia, and ear infections.
Smoking in the home harms pets.
Tobacco-free policies in the home can help persuade smokers to quit, prevent adolescent smoking and model healthy behaviors for children and visitors.
A smoke free home will smell better and have clean, fresh air.
The risk of fires in the home will go down.
Less time and money will be spent cleaning carpets, windows, mirrors, and walls stained by smoke
Insurance rates may decrease, and the resale value of your home may be greater.


How to Create a Smokefree Home

Don't allow smoking in your home.
If smokers live in the home, politely ask them to smoke outdoors, away from doors and windows, at least 25 feet away from the home.
Politely ask visitors and guests to smoke outside.
Do not allow babysitters or others who work in your home to smoke in the house or around children.
Make a sign or put up a sticker that indicates that you have a smoke free home.
Don’t allow smoking in your car either.
Make sure smokers know it’s the smoke you want to avoid – not them.
Thank your friends and family for helping to keep your home smoke free.

Sources:

1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  A Report of the Surgeon General: How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: What It Means to You.  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2010.
2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:  A Report of the Surgeon General: The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2006.
3. Bertone, Elizabeth R., Laura A Snyder,and Antony S. Moore, Environmental Tobacco Smoke and Risk of Malignant Lymphoma in Cats, American Journal of Epidemiology 2002; 156:268-273. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2002.
4. Dangerous Plants, PETCO.com, PETCO Animan Supplies, Inc., 2005.
Dr.Ott's Tips- Tobacco Toxicity, C.A.R.E. Critter Adoption and Rescue Effort, Inc., Ruskin, FL,2004.
5. Goetz, Rebecca J., Thomas N. Jordan, John W.McCain and Nancy Y. Su, Indiana Plants Poisonous to Livestock and Pets, Doorperative Extension Service, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.
6. Manning, Anita, Secondhand Smoke the Culprit in Common Cat Cancer, USA Today, July 30, 2002.
7. Nicotine (Cigarette) Poisoning in Pets, Mar Vista Animal Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA.
8. Secondhand Smoke in Your Home, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, website url: http//:www.cdc.gov/tobacco/research_data/environmental/etsfact3.htm, page last reviewed January 31, 2005