Secondhand Smoke

ROOM TO BREATHE

The science is clear: There is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure.1 Nine in 10 Oregon adults agree it’s harmful to health, and nine in 10 say people should be protected from it.2 Oregon has strong laws that protect people from secondhand smoke at work and in public places. Yet many people in Oregon — including children — are still exposed to secondhand smoke and aerosols, leading to illnesses and death.1

A POISON THAT KILLS 

Secondhand smoke comes from the burning end of a cigarette, cigar or pipe, or is exhaled by someone who is smoking. Cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemical compounds, including nearly 100 known to be harmful or potentially harmful, and almost 90 that are known to cause cancer.3

Secondhand smoke poisons the air we breathe. It causes or worsens disease in kids and adults who don’t even smoke — asthma, lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, bronchitis and pneumonia, to name a few.1 And it kills them, too: An estimated 750 Oregonians die from breathing secondhand smoke each year.4

Secondhand smoke is especially dangerous for pregnant women, the elderly and people with chronic illnesses.1

IN HOMES AND WORKPLACES

The Oregon Indoor Clean Air Act protects people in most workplaces in Oregon, 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. Secondhand smoke also lingers in unprotected public spaces, including parks and fairgrounds, and in outdoor dining areas.

At work, nearly 450,000 Oregon adults are still exposed to secondhand smoke5 — in outdoor dining areas, hotels, casinos, home care settings, construction sites and smoke shops, which are not covered under the law.

What is secondhand smoke?

Secondhand smoke is a mixture of two forms of smoke:

  1. “Mainstream smoke” is exhaled by a smoker.
  2. “Sidestream smoke” comes from the lighted end of a cigarette, pipe or cigar. It is more toxic than mainstream smoke.

Additionally, studies have shown that when someone uses an e-cigarette they expose people nearby to nicotine. This exposure is called “secondhand aerosol.” Research is still emerging on how far the particles and carcinogens in secondhand aerosol can spread.6

View Page Citations

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health. (2014). The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress. A Report of the Surgeon General: Executive Summary. Atlanta, GA: Author. Retrieved from http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/50-years-of-progress/exec-summary.pdf

  2. Oregon Health Authority. Vital Statistics 2017. Oregon Health Authority. Health Promotion and Chronic Disease, unpublished data.

  3. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2012, April). Harmful and potentially harmful constituents in tobacco products and tobacco smoke: Established list. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/tobacco-products/rules-regulations-and-guidance/harmful-and-potentially-harmful-constituents-tobacco-products-and-tobacco-smoke-established-list
    and
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion; Office on Smoking and Health. (2010). How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta (GA): Authors. doi.org/10.1037/e590462011-001

  4. Oregon Health Authority, Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention. Unpublished data.

    Oregon Health Authority. Health Promotion and Chronic Disease. (2016). Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance (BRFSS). Unpublished data.

  5. Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division. (2015). Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance (BRFSS). Unpublished data.

  6. About Electronic Cigarettes (E-cigarettes) Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/about-e-cigarettes.html