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 Protect yourself and your loved ones from

secondhand smoke 

What is Secondhand Smoke?

Secondhand smoke is the combination of smoke that is expelled from the lit end of a cigarette, pipe, cigar, or other combustible tobacco product and the smoke exhaled out by the smoker. When a person is near someone who is smoking, they are breathing in secondhand smoke.


People can be exposed to secondhand smoke in a variety of different ways including homes, cars, and public places like parks and trails. In some states, people continue to be exposed to secondhand smoke in

workplaces, bars, restaurants, and other recreational settings.


Is Secondhand Smoke Dangerous?

Secondhand smoke is dangerous to anyone who breathes it in. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.  Secondhand smoke contains over 7,000 harmful chemicals, with at least 69 that are known to cause cancer.


Here are a few of the ways secondhand smoke harms your body:

  • Cancer. It has more than 69 toxic chemicals known to cause cancer. Secondhand smoke can cause lung cancer in people who have never smoked themselves.

  • Heart disease. Breathing secondhand smoke increases your risk of heart disease‚ and heart attack.

  • Breathing problems. It can cause coughing‚ extra phlegm‚ wheezing‚ and shortness of breath.


Secondhand smoke is especially dangerous for children, babies, and women who are pregnant. Some of the more serious health effects include:

  • SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Babies whose mothers smoked while pregnant or who are exposed to secondhand smoke after birth are more likely to die from SIDS.

  • Smaller babies. Mothers who breathe secondhand smoke while pregnant are more likely to have smaller babies. Babies born small are weaker and have a higher risk for many serious health problems.

  • Weak lungs. Babies who breathe secondhand smoke after birth have weaker lungs than babies who are not exposed to secondhand smoke. 

  • Severe asthma. Secondhand smoke can trigger asthma attacks in children

  • Breathing problems. Kids exposed to secondhand smoke have been shown to get bronchitis and pneumonia more often. Secondhand smoke also causes lung problems in children including coughing‚  phlegm‚ wheezing‚ and breathlessness.

  • Ear infections. Children are more likley to get inner ear infections when they are exposed to secondhand smoke.


Protecting your loved ones


The best thing you can do for your health and the health of those around you is to quit smoking. Calling the Montana Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT NOW will increase your chance of success 8 to 10 times!  Visit our Tobacco Cessation page  for more information. 


If you cannot quit smoking, discontinue smoking in the house and keep your car smokefree. Youth and adults breathe in secondhand smoke at home more than any other place.


Setting “smokefree rules” for everyone in your home and car will help:

  • Reduce the amount of secondhand smoke your family breathes in

  • Increase the health and wellbeing of your family

  • Help you quit smoking

  • Decrease the chance of your children becoming life-long smokers



For more information visit these links:

Secondhand Smoke: The Facts Pamphlet

American Cancer Society

American Lung Association

Helena Heart Study

CDC, How can we protect our Children: A Parents Guide

NCI Factsheet‚ Secondhand Smoke: Questions and Answers

Surgeon General Report, The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke

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