Smoke-free homes and cars

Over 80% of secondhand smoke is invisible. If you could see the harmful poisons that are really there, you wouldn’t smoke.

The only way to protect others from the harms of secondhand smoke is to have a completely smoke-free home and car.

What is secondhand smoke?

Whenever you light up, secondhand smoke is produced. This is the smoke exhaled by you, plus the smoke created by the lit end of a cigarette.

Secondhand smoke is made up of gases and microscopic particles. This isn’t just unpleasant, it can be a killer. Secondhand smoke contains about 4,500 chemicals, many of which are irritants or toxins and more than 50 are known carcinogens. They’re the ones that can cause cancer.

Chemicals include:

  • Arsenic, which is used in rat poison
  • Benzene, which is found in petrol fumes and can cause leukaemia
  • Cyanide, which is poisonous and an industrial pollutant

Who’s smoking with you?

Even if you open a window, secondhand smoke will still be present in a room after two and a half hours! Smoking in a car is even worse because all of the smoke is concentrated into a small space.

So if you’re smoking at home or in the car think about who is smoking with you.

When you smoke inside your house or car, everyone in there is exposed to harmful secondhand tobacco smoke, including children, babies, other adults and pets. Breathing other people’s smoke is known as passive smoking. Most of the secondhand smoke is invisible and odourless, so even if you can not see or smell any smoke, it is probably still there.

What harm is it doing?

People that breathe in secondhand smoke are at risk of the same diseases as smokers, including cancer and heart disease.

Babies and children are at a much greater risk from the dangers of secondhand smoke, as they breathe faster and deeper taking in more of the harmful chemicals.

They are at higher risk of developing:

  • Asthma and chest infections
  • Cot death and meningitis
  • Glue ear (middle ear infection)
  • Behaviour and learning difficulties

Breathing in other people’s secondhand smoke can damage almost every organ in the human body. Breathing secondhand smoke increases a non-smoker’s risk of lung cancer by 24% and heart disease by 25%.

Children breathing in other people’s cigarette smoke resulted in 300,000 GP visits and 9,500 hospital admissions last year in the UK.

It’s also important to remember that smoking in the home is the number one cause of house fires in England

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