Hispanic and Latino People Need More Protection from Secondhand Smoke Exposure

The CDC is focused on protecting all people from health risks—including secondhand smoke (SHS), or the smoke produced when commercial tobacco* is burned—where they work, live, and play. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.11

Smokefree air policies are important because they protect people who don’t smoke from secondhand smoke, motivate those who smoke to quit, and prevent people from starting to smoke. Right now, however, not everyone in the nation is equitably protected by these policies.

mother holding infant

26% of Hispanic children experience secondhand smoke exposure.

  • During 2015-2018, 17.2% of Hispanic adults were exposed to secondhand smoke in the U.S.40
  • Children who live in multi-unit residences, like apartment complexes, are exposed to more secondhand smoke than those living in single-unit homes, even if no one in their family smokes indoors.41 This is potentially because smoke can travel through air vents, doors, and windows.41 Additionally, children who live in households with incomes below the poverty level are more likely to be exposed to SHS than children who live is households with incomes above the poverty level.42
  • In 2018-2019, 93% of Hispanic adults reported having a smokefree home environment.43 Yet 26% of Hispanic children aged 3-11 still experience secondhand smoke exposure.44
No smoking in the building.

Actions that can be taken to protect people from secondhand smoke include:

  • Adopt and expand smokefree home policies, while making support for people who want to quit smoking more available. When landlords adopt smokefree building policies, it protects tenants from secondhand smoke exposure and increases their chances of quitting tobacco long-term.45
  • Make all workplaces smokefree—with no exceptions. Many workplaces are now covered by comprehensive smokefree laws—but gaps in smokefree protections often leave out the places where many Hispanic/Latino people work, such as restaurants, bars, casinos, and workplaces with fewer than five employees. These are sectors and jobs where disproportionate numbers of Hispanic/Latino people work, placing them at risk from the negative health effects of secondhand smoke.46,47
  • Let local communities create stronger smokefree air policies. In some states that do not have a statewide smokefree policy, communities have put in comprehensive smokefree laws.48 However, 3 of the 5 U.S. states with the highest proportion of Hispanic residents have state laws that prevent local communities from setting up comprehensive smokefree policies.49 Letting local governments adopt smokefree polices would let more communities protect residents from secondhand smoke.
*“Commercial tobacco” means harmful products that are made and sold by tobacco companies. It does not include “traditional tobacco” used by Indigenous groups for religious or ceremonial purposes.
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