Protect people from exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke
There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke (SHS). Tobacco smoke is toxic and kills non-smokers. More than 4,000 chemicals have been identified in tobacco smoke, with more than 50 of these known to cause cancer. Tobacco smoke has similar components to inhaled or mainstream smoke. Studies have shown that pollution levels in indoor places that allow smoking are higher than levels found on busy roadways, in closed motor garages and during firestorms. Scientific evidence has unequivocally established that exposure to tobacco smoke causes death, disease and disability to non-smokers. Among newborns exposed either in utero or after birth, there is an increased risk of premature birth and low birth weight and a doubling of the risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Among children exposed to SHS, there is a 50–100% higher risk of acute respiratory illness, higher incidence of ear infections, and an increased likelihood of developmental disabilities and behavioural problems.
More information on the harms of SHS:
- WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer
United Kingdom Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health
Other related harm includes economic costs
Exposure to SHS imposes economic burdens on individuals and countries, both for the costs of direct health care as well as indirect costs from reduced productivity. Several studies estimate that 10% of total tobacco-related economic costs are attributable to SHS exposure.
Magnitude of exposure is high
Exposure to SHS kills about 600,000 non-smokers each year and contributes to about 1% of the total global disease burden, representing about 10–15% of the disease burden caused by active smoking.
Surveys including levels of exposure to SHS
- WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic
- Global youth tobacco survey (GYTS)
- Global tobacco surveillance system data (GTSSData)
- WHO/CDC Global Health Professional Survey (GHPS)
- Global adult tobacco survey (GATS)
- Global estimate of the burden of disease from second-hand smoke