Why Smoke-Free?

Exposure to secondhand smoke has been shown to cause cancer, respiratory, and cardiovascular diseases in adults. Secondhand smoke and the harmful chemicals in it are known causes of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, respitory infections, ear infections, and asthma attacks in infants and children. They are also known causes of heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer in adult nonsmokers

Source: Consumer Guide to the 50th Anniversary Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Additionally, secondhand smoke has been shown to have detrimental effects on the health of infants and children.

  • As noted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the 2014 U.S. Surgeon General’s report estimates that smoking causes approximately 480,000 deaths each year from the 21 diseases established to be caused by smoking—1 in every 5 deaths in the U.S. While a majority of the reported smoking-related deaths since 1964 have been adults with a history of smoking, 2.5 million of those deaths have been among nonsmokers-people who have died from diseases related to secondhand smoke exposure.
  • Since 1964, more than 20 million people have died from smoking, 2.5 million of which were nonsmokers that died from lung cancer or heart disease brought on by exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Approximately 3,400 nonsmoking adults die of lung cancer as a result of secondhand smoke each year.
  • 46,000 heart disease deaths are attributed to secondhand smoke annually.
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke increases a nonsmoker’s risk of stroke by 20-30 percent.
  • The costs of lost productivity due to premature deaths from secondhand smoke are now estimated to be $5.6 billion per year
  • In children, secondhand smoke causes ear and respiratory infections, aggravates asthma, and increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Every year secondhand smoke causes:
    • 200,000 to 1,000,000 asthmatic children to have their condition worsened
    • 150,000 to 300,000 new cases of bronchitis and pneumonia in children under 18 months
    • 1,900 to 2,700 SIDS deaths
Premature deaths caused by smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, 1965-2014
Cause of death Total
Smoking-related cancers 6,587,000
Cardiovascular and metabolic diseases 7,787,000
Pulmonary diseases 3,804,000
Conditions related to pregnancy and birth 108,000
Residential fires 86,000
Lung cancers caused by exposure to secondhand smoke 263,000
Coronary heart disease caused by exposure to secondhand smoke 2,194,000
Total 20,830,000
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, unpublished data.

Racial and ethnic minorities, people with lower incomes, and workers in occupations such as construction and the service industries have been found to have higher levels of exposure to secondhand smoke. Exposure is measured by the amount of Cotinine, a biomarker for tobacco smoke found in the bloodstream. With the broad adoption of state and local indoor smoking bans over the last decade Cotinine levels are down for all populations, but disparities persist.

In addition to the implementation of indoor smoke-free policies, smoking is increasingly restricted in outdoor public spaces. While motivations for these policies include litter, pollution, and fire prevention, as well as positive role-modeling for youth, they also better protect nonsmokers and vulnerable populations from secondhand smoke. Smoke-free laws such as these have been proven to reduce the occurrence of heart attacks and other coronary events among individuals up to age 65.

 

 

 

Chart 1 details the higher exposure rates to second hand smoke of certain groups of nonsmoking Americans. Specifically, it illustrates a higher exposure rate among nonsmoking blacks and those at or below the national poverty level. Additionally, nonsmoking renters have a higher exposure rate than those who own their own home. 

Chart 2 details exposure rate variances among children ages 3-11 by race/ethnicity. Non-Hispanic black children are shown to have the highest rate, compared to other groups.

Racial and Socioeconomic Disparities and Exposure to Second-Hand Smoke

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [Graph illustration CDC February 3, 2015] Secondhand Smoke infographics.

Chart 1 details the higher exposure rates to second hand smoke of certain groups of nonsmoking Americans. Specifically, it illustrates a higher exposure rate among nonsmoking blacks and those at or below the national poverty level. Additionally, nonsmoking renters have a higher exposure rate than those who own their own home. Chart 2 details exposure rate variances among children ages 3-11 by race/ethnicity. Non-Hispanic black children are shown to have the highest rate, compared to other groups.

Cited Works

California Environmental Protection Agency.  Health Effects of Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke.  Sacramento, CA: 1997.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Years of Potential Life Lost, and Productivity Losses—United States, 2000–2004. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2008;57(45):1226–8.

Consumer Guide to the 50th Anniversary Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

United States Environmental Protection Agency. Respiratory Health Effects of Passive Smoking: Lung Cancer and Other Disorders. Washington: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, Office of Health and Environmental Assessment, 1992.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coordinating Center for Health Promotion, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2006.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years
of Progress. A Report of the Surgeon General.
Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention
and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014. Printed with corrections, January 2014.