More than 80% of secondhand (passive) smoke is invisible and odourless, and it contains over 7000 chemicals. Many of these chemicals are irritants or toxins, and more than 70 are known to cause cancer. If you smoke in the home or in the car, whilst you can’t see or smell the majority of the smoke (so the dangers are hidden), your friends and family are still breathing in the harmful poisons.
Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke because they breathe faster, which means they take in proportionately more poisons for their body weight. They also have more hand-to-mouth contact so are more likely to swallow the toxic chemicals, and their immune systems are under-developed so they have less protection from the smoke as adults.
If you smoke in your car or home, toxic smoke particles can stay inside for several hours after a cigarette has been smoked, by clinging to walls, curtains, furniture and clothing; smoking out of the back door or a car window is not enough to protect children.
Levels of secondhand smoke in cars can be extremely high because of the restricted area in which the smoke is circulated.
Remember that your pets are at risk too - secondhand smoke can:
- increase the chance of your dog getting lung or nose cancer
- double a cat’s risk of developing a fatal form of cancer affecting the white blood cells
- cause breathing, eye and skin problems in birds
- lead to rabbits developing pneumonia and cancer.
There are a number of benefits of a Smokefree Car and Home, which include:
- your children will be less likely to take up smoking themselves
- your home will be fresher and cleaner and will need decorating less frequently
- you will be less likely to have a house fire (smoking is responsible for 36% of accidental housefires which result in deaths)
- your children will be healthier
- your pets are likely to be healthier and live longer.
If you would like further information, please consult the 'helpful links' section on this page.
Over 800 children visit their doctor every day in the UK due to the effects of secondhand smoke exposure.
Smoking is one of the main causes of house fires.
Children can inhale the equivalent of around 150 cigarettes a year when adults around them smoke.
The level of secondhand smoke in cars is at least ten times greater than in the house.
It's estimated that 23 children in the UK each year will die due to second-hand smoke.