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Vital Signs

Vital Signs

To make CDC health information more accessible to the public, more interesting to the media, and more relevant to policymakers, CDC created Vital Signs—a monthly publication that uses concise and compelling data to communicate vital health information on select topics. The CDC Vital Signs topic for February 2015 is the dangers of secondhand smoke.

The Vital Signs report has several parts, including an MMWR Early Release, a fact sheet, a Web site, a digital press kit, social media tools, a public service announcement, and podcasts in English and Spanish.

Secondhand Smoke: A Danger to Millions

Despite falling smoking rates, 58 million nonsmokers in the United States, including 15 million children ages 3 to 11 years, are still exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke. Recent research shows that although secondhand smoke exposure rates in 2011–2012 had dropped for all population groups, some groups continue to be exposed at much higher rates than others. In addition to children, these include Black nonsmokers, people who live below the poverty level, and those who rent housing. Among all nonsmokers in the United States, 1 in 4 is exposed to secondhand smoke.

Secondhand smoke contains dangerous chemicals that are known to cause heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer in adults and ear infections, respiratory infections, asthma attacks, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in infants and children. Since 1964, two and a half million nonsmokers have died from diseases caused by exposure to secondhand smoke; every year, secondhand smoke kills 41,000 adult nonsmokers from heart disease and lung cancer and 400 babies from SIDS.

CDC Resources for Tobacco Prevention and Control

The following resources can help you learn about secondhand smoke:

  • Vital Signs
    The latest CDC Vital Signs monthly report details new information about the dangers of secondhand smoke, the people who are most likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke, and the home as the major source of exposure for children. The Vital Signs MMWR article contains additional data on secondhand smoke
  • Feature Article—Secondhand Smoke: Danger!
    This article contains important information on secondhand smoke, including stories about secondhand smoke exposure from Jessica and Nathan, participants in CDC's Tips From Former Smokers campaign.

Other Resources on Secondhand Smoke


Related Vital Signs Reports


Campaigns and Multimedia

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