What Is Secondhand Smoke?

Everyone knows that smoking is a bad idea. But being around someone who smokes is also bad for your health.

Secondhand smoke is the smoke that smokers breathe out and the smoke floating from the end of the cigarette, cigar, or pipe.

What Are the Dangers of Secondhand Smoke?

Secondhand smoke contains thousands of chemicals that are toxic to the body. Breathing in secondhand smoke makes you more likely to have:

  • lung infections (like pneumonia)
  • asthma
  • coughing, sore throats, sniffling, and sneezing
  • cancer
  • heart disease

What Can I Do About Secondhand Smoke?

Chances are, you know someone who smokes. Whether you smoke or you're regularly around someone who does, it's never healthy to breathe in tobacco smoke. Even occasional or short-term exposure can take a toll on the body.

Ask the smokers you know to take these two steps:

  1. Take all their smoke breaks outside, away from other people, especially kids and pregnant women. Smoke lingers in the air for hours after cigarettes are put out. If someone smokes anywhere inside, other people are breathing in that smoke too. Because smoke sticks to people and their clothing, when smokers come back inside, they should wash their hands and change their clothing, especially before holding or hugging children.
  2. Never smoke in a car with other people. Even blowing smoke out the window does little, if anything, to reduce smoke exposure.

Just as a person who smokes chooses to light up, nonsmokers have a choice too. You can  walk away from other people's smoke at home, school, work, restaurants, even friends' and family members' houses.

If you smoke, try to quit. Quitting isn't easy because smoking is very addictive. But plenty of programs and people can help you kick the habit. And consider the benefits: You'll look, feel, and smell better, and have more money saved to go out and show off the newer, healthier you!

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.