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Secondhand & Thirdhand Tobacco Smoke Exposure

Secondhand smoke is a significant public health concern and driver of smoke-free policies. Also called passive or secondary smoke, secondhand smoke:

  • Increases lung cancer risk by about 20%
  • Increases the risk of asthma in children
  • Increases the risk for many other diseases
  • Causes approximately 53,800 deaths annually in the U.S.

What is Thirdhand Smoke?

Smoking also leaves chemical residue on surfaces where smoking has occurred, which can persist long after the smoke itself has been cleared from the environment. This phenomenon, known as “thirdhand smoke,” is increasingly recognized as a potential danger, especially to children, who not only inhale fumes released by these residues but also ingest residues that get on their hands after crawling on floors or touching walls and furniture.

More research is needed on the risks posed to humans by thirdhand smoke, but a study in mice showed that thirdhand smoke exposure has several behavioral and physical health impacts, including hyperactivity and adverse effects on the liver and lungs.