REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND THE WORKPLACE
Working in an area where you regularly breathe secondhand smoke during pregnancy can increase your chances of having a baby with low birthweight. Here, you can learn more about secondhand smoke and what you can do to reduce your exposure for a healthier pregnancy.
What is secondhand smoke?
- Secondhand smoke is the smoke that comes from either a burning cigarette or cigar, or from someone breathing out smoke when they are smoking.
- It contains chemicals that can make you sick, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which have caused cancer and birth defects in animals.
Why should I be concerned about exposure?
- One in 10 American workers say they regularly breathe in secondhand smoke while working.
- We know that regular exposure to secondhand smoke can cause cancer, heart disease, stroke, and lung problems in adults. It can also cause low birthweight in a baby if the mother regularly breathes in secondhand smoke.
- Secondhand smoke can stay on your clothes, which can expose your baby during breastfeeding if your baby touches your clothes.
Who is exposed to secondhand smoke?
- The most common jobs where pregnant women are exposed to secondhand smoke include restaurant and bar workers, casino workers, and hotel workers.
- Outdoor workplaces and working in a private home are usually not covered by smoke-free laws.
- Many states, cities, and workplaces do not allow smoking in indoor workplaces.
What is not known?
- We don’t know what causes most cases of low birthweight. If you regularly breathe in secondhand smoke and have a baby with a low birthweight, we often can’t tell if it was caused by secondhand smoke or if it was caused by something else.
- We don’t know what levels of secondhand smoke are safe. Try to reduce or eliminate your exposure as much as possible.
What can I do to reduce or eliminate my exposure?
- It can be hard to avoid breathing in secondhand smoke in your job. The best solution is for your employer, city, or state to create a policy or law that does not allow smoking in the workplace. Talk to your employer, your employee representative, or your mayor or Congressperson about creating smoke-free workplaces.
- Secondhand smoke can stay on your clothes. If you are exposed to secondhand smoke and you are breastfeeding your infant, change your clothes before breastfeeding.
Where can I get more information?
- Find data on tobacco use and resources to quit.
- Learn more about how smoking and secondhand smoke affects your healthCdc-pdfExternal.
- Learn more about how to create a smoke-free workplaceExternal and share this information with your employer.