Tobacco Free Nebraska for a great state of health

Tobacco Free Nebraska

Secondhand Smoke: Downright Deadly

Secondhand smoke is more than annoying - it’s downright deadly.

Secondhand smoke is a mix of the smoke given off by the burning ends of cigarettes, cigars and pipes and the smoke exhaled by smokers. There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals and chemical compounds. At least 70 of them are known to cause cancer.


Secondhand Smoke is Classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a "Group A" Carcinogen; Shown to Cause Cancer in Humans.

In 1964, the U.S. Surgeon General released its first report on smoking and health. Since then, 20 million Americans have died because of smoking. Of those, nearly 2.5 million were nonsmokers who died from heart disease or lung cancer caused by exposure to secondhand smoke. Annually, nearly 3,400 lung cancer deaths and an estimated 46,000 heart disease deaths can be attributed to secondhand smoke exposure. 

Secondhand smoke exposure also increases the risk of stroke by an estimated 20-30%.


Children are Particularly Vulnerable to Secondhand Smoke Because They are Still Growing and Have Higher Breathing Rates Than Adults.

Children are more likely to develop bronchitis and pneumonia when exposed to secondhand smoke.

Additionally, secondhand smoke exposure:

  • Causes 150,000 to 300,000 lower respiratory infections in infants and children under 18 months of age annually.
  • Can cause more ear infections, more fluid in the ear and more operations to put in ear tubes for drainage.
  • Can trigger asthma attacks and make asthma symptoms more severe.


Secondhand Smoke is a Known Cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

SIDS is the sudden, unexplained, unexpected death of an infant in the first year of life. It is the leading cause of death in otherwise healthy infants. Both babies whose mothers smoke while pregnant and babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke after birth, are more likely to die from SIDS than babies who are not exposed at all.

Make Your Home Smoke-Free

If you are a smoker, you can make your home smoke-free by smoking outside. Blowing smoke away from children, going into another room to smoke, turning on a fan, or opening a window will not protect your family from the dangers of secondhand smoke.

The greatest benefit of a smoke-free home is that you will remove the health risks caused by secondhand smoke. Plus, when your home is smoke-free it will smell much better. And your food will taste better, too.

You’ll spend less time, energy and money cleaning your curtains, walls, windows and mirrors. Even your pets will be happier.

It may feel awkward to ask people not to smoke in your home. No one wants to make his or her guests uncomfortable. Tell guests that for the sake of your family’s health, you simply don’t allow smoking in your home. Make sure your child’s school and day care programs are smoke-free as well. And insist that babysitters do not smoke around your children.

Sources: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Surgeon General’s Reports, and American Lung Association.

For more information, contact:
Tobacco Free Nebraska
P.O. Box 95026
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-5026
Phone: (402) 471-2101
E-mail: TFN Info