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New CDC Vital Signs: Secondhand Smoke Exposure

58 million nonsmokers in US still exposed

Although secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure in the United States dropped by half between 1999-2000 and 2011-2012, one in four nonsmokers -- 58 million people -- are still exposed to SHS, according to a new Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) show that declines in exposure to SHS have been slower and exposure remains higher among children, blacks, those who live in poverty, and those who live in rental housing. The report finds two in every five children aged three to 11 years are still exposed to SHS. The study assessed exposure using cotinine, a marker of SHS found in the blood.

Additional key findings in the Vital Signs report include that:

  • Nearly half of black nonsmokers are exposed to SHS, including seven in 10 black children.
  • More than two in five nonsmokers who live below the poverty level are exposed to SHS.
  • More than one in three nonsmokers who live in rental housing are exposed to SHS.

 

Vital Signs is a report that appears on the first Tuesday of the month as part of the CDC journal, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The report provides the latest data and information on key health indicators. These include cancer prevention, obesity, tobacco use, motor vehicle passenger safety, prescription drug overdose, HIV/AIDS, alcohol use, health care-associated infections, cardiovascular health, teen pregnancy, and food safety.

Contact Information

CDC Media Relations
(404) 639-3286
media@cdc.gov

Vital Signs Links

Factsheet:
English [6.14MB]
Spanish [6.14MB]

Spokespersons

Tom Frieden, MD, MPH

Tom Frieden, MD, MPH

Biography

Photo: Dr Thomas Frieden

"Secondhand smoke can kill. Too many Americans, and especially too many American children, are still exposed to it. That 40 percent of children -- including seven in 10 black children -- are still exposed shows how much more we have to do to protect everyone from this preventable health hazard."

Tom Frieden, MD, MPH - Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Brian King, PhD

Brian King, PhD

Brian King, PhD

"About 80 million Americans live in multiunit housing, where secondhand smoke can seep into smoke-free units and shared areas from units where smoking occurs,” said Brian King, PhD. The potential of exposure in subsidized housing is especially concerning because many of the residents -- including children, the elderly, and people with disabilities -- are particularly sensitive to the effects of secondhand smoke."

Brian King, PhD - Acting Deputy Director for Research Translation, Office on Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

Julián Castro

Julián Castro

Biography

Julián Castro

"No family should ever get sick because of where they live. This report shines an important light on the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure. Ensuring that every American lives in a community that helps rather than harms them must be a national priority."

Julián Castro - Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

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