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Secondhand Smoke

What is secondhand smoke (SHS)?

Most of us have heard people talking about secondhand smoke but few of us really understand what it is.

Secondhand smoke is smoke that is breathed in from other people's tobacco smoke. It is caused by smoke that is blown out when someone is smoking or it comes from the tip of the cigarette that has been left to burn.

The Facts

Secondhand smoke contains more than 4,000 toxic chemicals.

  • The particles are so tiny, 85% of them are invisible and odourless.
  • Children are more vulnerable to secondhand smoke because they have smaller airways, breathe faster, and their immune systems are still developing.
  • Children exposed to secondhand smoke are more at risk of coughs, colds, ear infections and chest infections. 
  • Smoking in a vehicle with anyone under the age of 18 is now illegal and you can be fined £100.

When you smoke indoors your secondhand smoke lingers in the air. You can't see or smell it, but it's there.

The harmful chemicals creep from room to room for up to 5 hours, waiting for your child to breathe them in - even with the windows open and doors closed.

Find out more about secondhand smoke, including tips on making your home and car smokefree, via Take it right outside, the national campaign website.