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Four steps to avoid secondhand smoke

Secondhand smoke poses risks to you and your family. Learn ways to minimize exposure and stay healthy.

The Dangers of Secondhand Smoke

Stroke, cancer, respiratory issues, heart disease: Those are just some of the consequences of smoking — but they're also the consequences of exposure to secondhand smoke.

Secondhand smoke, sometimes called environmental tobacco smoke, comes from two sources: burning cigarettes and the smoke exhaled by smokers. It doesn't just increase the risk of health issues in anyone exposed to it. 

Secondhand smoke contains at least 70 cancer-causing chemicals that affect children, adults, and even pets. And the effects, or chemical levels, accumulate in every age group — infants to the elderly — with increased exposure. Children are especially at risk: About 37 percent of children in the U.S. have already been exposed.

Health risks to people include:

  • Asthma, respiratory, lung, and ear infections
  • Increased level of illness
  • Sudden infant death syndrome in infants and children
  • Lower respiratory tract infections
  • Childhood asthma flare-ups
  • The risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, heart attack, lung cancer, and possibly other cancers, as well as the possibility of depression

Take these four steps to avoid or minimize exposure to secondhand smoke:

  1. Make your home a smoke-free zone. If you or someone in your family smokes, insist that all smoking take place outside in a designated spot away from other people.
  2. Make your car a smoke-free zone, too. Rolling down the window will not lessen the effects of secondhand smoke.
  3. Find a smoke-free daycare or childcare center for your children.
  4. If you can, visit designated smoke-free restaurants, bars and other businesses. Designated "no smoking" sections in businesses do not stop the spread of secondhand smoke. Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have passed comprehensive smoke-free laws. Check to see if your state has smoke-free laws.

Any time you can lessen your exposure to secondhand smoke benefits your health. Remember: There is no safe level of exposure.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates). While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. State Farm is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.

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