The science is clear: There is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure.49 Nearly all Oregon adults agree that secondhand smoke is harmful to your health, and the vast majority (9 of 10 Oregonians)50 say people should be protected from it. We have strong laws and policies that are helping us get there, especially on the job. Yet many more Oregonians—including children—continue to be exposed, leading to asthma, other illnesses and death.
A Poison That KillsSecondhand smoke comes from the burning end of a cigarette, cigar or pipe, or is exhaled by a smoker. It’s more than a nuisance. Secondhand smoke poisons the air we breathe. It causes disease in kids and adults who don’t even smoke51 — asthma, lung cancer, heart disease, bronchitis and pneumonia, to name a few. And it kills them, too: 650 Oregonians die from secondhand smoke exposure each year.52
In Homes and Workplaces
Smokefree laws and policies protect Oregonians in most workplaces in the state, as well as in many college campuses and restaurants. Yet kids and adults continue to be exposed to secondhand smoke in apartment complexes, where a neighbor’s smoke can seep through doors, windows and vents; in unprotected public spaces including parks and fairgrounds; and in outdoor dining areas.Most exposure to secondhand smoke occurs in homes and in workplaces that are not covered under the Oregon Indoor Clean Air Act. Nearly 200,00054 Oregon adults are still exposed to secondhand smoke while working in places where smoking may not be prohibited, such as outdoor dining areas, hotels, casinos, home care settings and construction sites. Certain Oregonians are especially vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke, including pregnant women, the elderly and people with chronic illnesses.
What Is It?
Secondhand smoke is a mixture of two forms of smoke that come from a burning cigarette.
“Involuntary” SmokersSecondhand smoke, a mixture of gases and particles, contains more than 7,000 chemical compounds, including more than 250 chemicals that are known to be harmful. Of those, at least 69 are known to cause cancer.55 When kids and other “involuntary smokers” breathe in secondhand smoke, they take in nicotine and other toxic chemicals by the same route that people who smoke do. Oregonians can celebrate eliminating secondhand smoke in many parts of our state. But there is more to be done to protect our kids—and all of us—from harm.
Which of the following locations would you like to see become smokefree next?
The Newport Aquarium
Breitenbush Hot Springs