Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke is also known as environmental tobacco smoke. SHS is a mixture of 2 forms of smoke that come from burning tobacco:

  • Sidestream smoke – smoke from the lighted end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar
  • Mainstream smoke – the smoke exhaled by a smoker

Sidestream smoke has higher concentrations of cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) and is more toxic than mainstream smoke. And, it has smaller particles than mainstream smoke. These smaller particles make their way into the lungs and the body’s cells more easily.
When non-smokers are exposed to secondhand smoke it’s calledinvoluntary smoking or passive smoking.Non-smokers who breathe in SHS take in nicotine and toxic chemicals by the same route smokers do. The more SHS you breathe, the higher the level of these harmful chemicals in your body.

Secondhand smoke (SHS) is classified as a “known human carcinogen” (cancer-causing agent).Tobacco smoke is a mixture of gases and particles. It contains more than 7,000 chemical compounds. More than 250 of these chemicals are known to be harmful, and at least 69 are known to cause cancer.
Secondhand smoke has been linked to lung cancer. There is also some evidence suggesting it might be linked to lymphoma, leukemia, and brain tumors in children, and cancers of the larynx (voice box), pharynx (throat), nasal sinuses, brain, bladder, rectum, stomach, and breast in adults.


Health Consequences Causally Linked to Exposure to Secondhand Smoke




People have died from tobacco-related diseases in Africa since the opening of the first FCTC working group on 28 October 1999.

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