Second- Hand and Third-Hand Smoke and Vapour

Second-hand smoke affects everyone who is exposed to it.  Those most at risk are babies, young children, pregnant women, and people with chronic illnesses.
Each year more than 1,000 non-smoking Canadians die from second-hand smoke.

Second-hand smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke, contains more than 4,000 chemicals. Exposure to second-hand smoke causes many health problems, ranging from throat irritations to chest infections and lung cancer. Less is known about the effects of second-hand vapour from products like electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). Second-hand vapour can have nicotine and other chemicals that may be harmful (Government of Alberta, 2020).

Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke while pregnant can affect the baby’s growth and development which may lead to low birth weight.

Children are more vulnerable to second-hand smoke as they breathe faster than adults (Health Canada, 2011).  Children who are exposed to second-hand smoke are more likely to experience asthma, respiratory infections, other respiratory problems and ear infections (The Lung Association, 2012).

There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke, even outdoors. Second-hand smoke can remain in the air, on clothes, carpet, furniture and children’s toys long after the cigarette is out.  Second-hand smoke is not removed by opening a window, turning on a fan, smoking in another room, or using an air purifier. The residue that attaches itself to walks, floors, carpets, furniture, etc., from smoking and vaping is called third-hand smoke and vapour (Government of Alberta, 2020).

Make your home and car smoke-free:

  • If you smoke, decide to smoke outside your home and car. Be sure your children are safe when you go outside to smoke.
  • Invite your family (including children) to help you develop a plan to create a smoke-free environment.
  • Post signs to let people know your home and car are smoke-free.
  • Remove ashtrays from your home and car.
  • Ask smokers who visit to smoke outside.
  • Think about quitting…it is the best thing you can do to help your children stay smoke-free.

For more information on how to make your home and car smoke-free, read Make Your Home and Car Smoke-free from Health Canada.

Second-hand smoke and your rights:

  • In Newfoundland and Labrador we have legislation that protects people’s right to smoke-free air. To protect the public from exposure, the Smoke-Free Environment Act 2005:
    • prohibits smoking in all indoor public places (including bars, decks and bingo halls), workplaces and in motor vehicles while persons under 16 years of age are present;
    • prohibits the use of electronic cigarettes in indoor public places (restaurants, licensed liquor establishments), workplaces and in motor vehicles while persons under the age of 16 are present;
    • prohibits designated smoking and designated e-cigarette rooms in workplaces (Smoke-free Environment Regulations) (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Tobacco Control, 2005).


Services related to this information:

Newfoundland and Labrador Smokers’ Helpline – 1-800-363-5864

811 HealthLine (Newfoundland & Labrador) – Call 811 or 1-888-709-2929 / TTY 1-888-709-3555

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Last updated: 2021-01-04