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Smoking & tobacco

Second–hand smoke

How second–hand smoke hurts your health

Second-hand smoke seriously hurts your health. Researchers estimate that second-hand smoke kills at least 1100 Canadians every year.1

Consider these facts:

  • Secondhand smoke exposure is the number two cause of lung cancer (smoking is the number one cause)
  • Marrying a smoker increases your risk of heart disease and COPD
  • Just 30 minutes' exposure to second-hand smoke hardens your arteries (arteriosclerosis); more exposure puts you at risk for heart problems
  • Smoking can increase your risk of miscarriage and stillbirths
  • Babies whose mother smoked while she was pregnant or who are around second-hand smoker after they're born are more likely to die of SIDS

Children born to smoking parents are generally:

  • Smaller at birth
  • Have smaller heads
  • Are sickly as infants
  • Remain smaller than other children their age
  • Are more likely to have asthma, colds, the flu, and ear infections
  • Are more likely to have leukemia

Children of smokers often don't do as well in school as children of nonsmokers.

More information on children and second-hand smoke


1. Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada: Estimated tobacco-caused deaths in Canada (PDF), fact sheet based on Makomaski Illing E.M., Kaiserman M.J., Mortality attributable to tobacco use in Canada and its regions, 1998. Can J Public Health 2004;95(1):38-44.