The debate is over. The science is clear:
secondhand smoke is not a mere
annoyance, but a serious health hazard.
-Richard Carmona, U.S. Surgeon General June 27, 2006
Secondhand smoke is a combination of the smoke in the air from a burning cigarette, cigar, or pipe and the smoke exhaled by a person who is smoking. Secondhand smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, more than 60 of which are known to cause cancer.
Secondhand smoke causes an estimated 46,000 premature deaths from heart disease each year in the US among non-smokers.
Breathing secondhand smoke has immediate harmful effects on the cardiovascular system that can increase the risk of a heart attack. People who already have heart disease are at especially high risk and should take special precautions to avoid even brief exposures.
Secondhand smoke can cause sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), acute respiratory infections, ear problems, and more frequent and severe asthma attacks in children.
Many major organizations including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Surgeon General, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society recognize secondhand smoke as a cancer-causing chemical.