It's Your Health
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Each year in Canada, second-hand smoke causes the death of at least 800 non-smokers, due to lung cancer and heart disease. The best way to protect your family from the health effects of second-hand smoke is to make your home and car 100% smoke-free.
Second-hand smoke is the combination of smoke coming directly from a burning tobacco product and the smoke exhaled by a smoker. When you see second-hand smoke in the air, what may not be so obvious is that there are more than 4,000 chemicals in the smoke and that at least 70 of these chemicals are carcinogens (chemicals that cause, initiate or promote cancer).
When someone smokes in your home, second-hand smoke spreads from one room to another, even if the door to the smoking area is closed. In addition, potentially toxic chemicals in second-hand smoke can cling to rugs, curtains, clothes, food and other materials, and can usually remain in a room or car long after someone has smoked there.
You may think you can clear the smoke from a room or your car by opening a window or turning on a fan, but this is not the case. Studies have shown there is no level of ventilation that will eliminate the harmful effects of second-hand smoke. Even air filters (air purifiers) are not enough. Second-hand smoke is composed of both particles and gases. Most air filters are designed to remove fine smoke particles from the air, but they do not remove the gases that can cause diseases.
Second-hand smoke hurts everyone, but is particularly dangerous to babies and children because their lungs are still developing. Because their lungs are smaller, babies and children breathe more quickly and take in more harmful chemicals for their size than adults do. In addition, their immune systems are less developed and cannot protect them as much from tobacco smoke.
The health effects from exposure to second-hand smoke include the following:
Non-smoking adults exposed to second-hand smoke are at an increased risk for lung cancer and respiratory problems. They are also at an increased risk for heart disease and stroke because second-hand smoke does the following:
If you choose to smoke or if you live with a smoker, protect your family from the health effects of second-hand smoke by keeping your home and car 100% smoke-free. Start by getting a copy of Make Your Home and Car Smoke-Free: A Guide to Protecting Your Family From Second-hand Smoke. The guide offers many helpful tips, including the following:
The Guide also suggests additional steps you can take if you live in a multi-unit building (apartment, etc.), such as using foam or insulation to fill, seal and insulate cracks and gaps around pipes and vents.
The primary mission of the Federal Tobacco Control Strategy (FTCS) is to reduce tobacco-related disease and death among Canadians. It recognizes that the key to success is comprehensive, integrated and sustained action, carried out in collaboration with all partners and directed at Canadians of all ages.
As part of this strategy, Health Canada designs and carries out public awareness campaigns on issues like the dangers of second-hand smoke.
You can also call toll free at 1-866-225-0709 or TTY at 1-800-267-1245*
Updated: May, 2012
Original: December 2006
ę Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Health, 2012
Catalogue # H13-7/25-2011E-PDF
ISBN # 978-1-100-19855-2