Secondhand Smoke Facts

Secondhand smoke is a mixture of two forms of smoke that come from burning tobacco: side-stream smoke (the smoke from the lighted end of a cigarette) and mainstream smoke (the smoke inhaled and exhaled by a smoker). Side-stream smoke is more toxic than mainstream smoke, as it has much higher concentrations of cancer-causing substances. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

Just 30 minutes of exposure to secondhand smoke can cause heart damage similar to that of an everyday smoker.

Secondhand Smoke Dangers

The dangers of secondhand smoke are immense. It is classified as a Class A carcinogen, as it has been proven to cause cancer in people. Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals — 250 are known to be harmful, and at least 70 cause cancer. In fact, secondhand smoke kills nearly 50,000 nonsmokers each year.

Approximately 2.5M nonsmokers have died since 1964 due to health issues caused by exposure to SHS.
In nonsmokers, SHS causes around 7.3K lung cancer deaths/year & nearly 34K heart disease deaths/year.

Exposure to secondhand smoke continues to be a serious health problem in our state. Overall, 52.1% of Oklahoma adults report being regularly exposed to secondhand smoke, a rate higher than the national average.

While over half of U.S. states have comprehensive smoke-free policies protecting people from secondhand smoke, Oklahoma has none.

A majority of Oklahomans (77%) support stronger tobacco policies. Are you one of them? Stay informed and get involved!

Secondhand Smoke and Children

Secondhand smoke can affect children in harmful ways, as their bodies and lungs have not yet fully developed. Exposure to secondhand smoke leaves them at greater risk for serious health issues, such as ear infections, lung infections, asthma attacks, bronchitis and more.

The level of secondhand smoke a child is exposed to is directly proportional to the likelihood of the child becoming a smoker as an adolescent or an adult.

Furthermore, youth smokers are more likely to develop severe levels of nicotine addiction compared to adults. That leads to continued tobacco use as they grow older, leading to long-term health effects of tobacco addiction.

Support Tobacco Policies in Oklahoma

As a concerned Oklahoman, you can help protect our kids. Talk to the kids in your life about tobacco early and often. Show your support for stronger tobacco policies in Oklahoma. Until we strengthen Oklahoma’s tobacco policies, our health issues and mortality rate will continue to climb.