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Where there’s smoke...it’s usually second-hand

What is second-hand smoke?

Second-hand smoke is the most common and harmful form of indoor air pollution. It fills the air in a room where people are smoking with two kinds of smoke.

Mainstream smoke is first inhaled then exhaled by the smoker. Sidestream smoke goes directly into the air from the burning end of the cigarette between puffs.

Second-hand smoke contains up to 4,000 chemicals

Chemical tests on tobacco smoke from that sidestream smoke has more tar, nicotine and other cancer-causing chemicals than mainstream smoke.

Three cancer-causing chemicals in second-hand smoke are so dangerous that North American air quality rules used by most governments say no one should ever be exposed to them.

When a cigarette is burned about 85 per cent of the smoke that goes into the air is sidestream smoke.

What are the health costs?

If you are a smoker you probably know about the effect smoking will have on your health...but did you know that when you smoke around other people it can affect their health as well?

The immediate health effects of second-hand smoke include:

  • eye irritation;

  • headache;

  • nasal discomfort and sneezing;

  • cough and sore throat;

  • nausea and dizziness;

  • increased heart rate and blood pressure

About 25 per cent of Canadians have conditions such as asthma, angina or allergies whose symptom are worsened by second-hand smoke.

Long-term exposure to second-hand smoke:

  • reduces the non-smoker’s ability to take in and use oxygen

  • causes heart disease and lung cancer in non-smokers

Health Canada figures estimate that every year at least 330 non-smokers die from lung cancer due to exposure to second-hand smoke.

Are there other costs?

Smoke in the workplace leads to higher expenses for employers. Labour Canada estimates that each smoking employee costs more than $2,000 per year due to:

  • increased absenteeism

  • decrease productivity

  • increased insurance premiums

  • increased cleaning cost

  • increased property damage

  • costs from non-smoker’s exposure to second-hand smoke