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Second-Hand Smoke

Second-hand smoke is the smoke from the end of a burning (lit) cigarette, cigar or pipe; it also refers to the smoke exhaled by the smoker.  Second-hand smoke is sometimes called environmental tobacco smoke (ETS).  

Why is it a concern?

Second-hand smoke contains more than 4000 chemicals, many of which are cancer-causing.  Exposure can cause lung cancer, heart disease, strokes, asthma, and other serious health conditions.  There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke. 

Who is most affected by it?

Second-hand smoke can affect anyone’s health, but some people are more susceptible to the harmful effects of it.  Children, pregnant woman, the elderly and people who suffer from heart or lung problems are particularly at risk for harm.

What can you do about it?

If you are a smoker, there are things you can do to ensure that you are protecting those around you from second-hand smoke. You can keep your home and car smoke-free and move away from others when smoking outdoors.  Quitting smoking is the best way that you can protect your family and friends from second-hand smoke and it is the best thing that you can do for your own health as well.

If you are a tenant and are concerned about second-hand smoke drifting into your home, you can ask your building manager to adopt a no-smoking policy.  Landlords can implement a no-smoking policy that can help reduce the risk of second-hand smoke, the risk of fire, and lower the cost of cleaning or renovating their units.  To receive an information package on how to create a smoke-free housing environment, contact your local health unit office.

We are protected from second-hand smoke in indoor workplaces and public places under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, but there are still other places where exposure can happen.  We can all advocate for policies and by-laws to reduce exposure in shared places such as parks, beaches, recreational spaces and multi-unit dwellings.  Contact your local health unit office for more information on ways to reduce exposure to second-hand smoke.  

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