An estimated 21% of all adults (45 million people) smoke cigarettes in the United States.1 Secondhand smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke, is a complex mixture of gases and particles that include smoke from the burning cigarette, cigar, or pipe tip (sidestream smoke), and exhaled mainstream smoke. Secondhand smoke contains at least 250 known toxic chemicals, including more than 50 that can cause cancer.2 Secondhand smoke causes heart disease and lung cancer in nonsmoking adults and a number of health conditions, including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and respiratory infections, in children.3
More than 126 million nonsmoking Americans continue to be exposed to secondhand smoke in homes, vehicles, workplaces, and public places. Most exposure to tobacco smoke occurs in homes and workplaces. Almost 60% of U.S. children aged 3–11 years—or almost 22 million children—are exposed to secondhand smoke.3
For more information on Secondhand Smoke, please see the Secondhand Smoke Fact Sheet.
1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tobacco Use Among Adults—United States 2005. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report [serial online]. 2006;55(42)1145-1148 [cited 2006 Oct 30]. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5542a2.htm.
2National Toxicology Program. 11th Report on Carcinogens, 2005. (PDF–219KB) Research Triangle Park, NC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Sciences, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, 2000 [cited 2006 Sep 27]. Available from: http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/roc/eleventh/profiles/s176toba.pdf.
3U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coordinating Center for Health Promotion, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2006 [cited 2006 Sep 27]. Available from: http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/secondhandsmoke/report/.