Second-Hand and Third-Hand Smoke and Vapour

An infant crawls on a rug
Second-hand smoke affects everyone, especially 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 affects everyone. Those most at risk are babies, young children, those who are pregnant, and people with chronic illnesses. 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. Children are more likely to experience asthma, respiratory infections, other respiratory problems and ear infections when exposed to second-hand smoke.

Second-hand smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke, has more than 4,000 chemicals. Exposure to second-hand smoke causes many health problems. They range from throat irritations to chest infections and lung cancer. We know less about the effects of second-hand vapour from products like electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). However, second-hand vapour can have nicotine and other chemicals that may be harmful.

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.  Opening a window, turning on a fan, smoking in another room, or using an air purifier does not remove second-hand smoke. The residue that attaches itself to floors, carpets, furniture, etc., from smoking and vaping is called third-hand smoke and vapour.

Make your home and car smoke-free (click to expand) »
  • 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 (click to expand) »
  • In Newfoundland and Labrador we have laws that protect people’s right to smoke-free air. To protect the public from exposure, the Smoke-Free Environment Act 2005:
    • Bans 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;
    • Bans the use of e-cigarettes in indoor public places (restaurants, places with liquor licenses), workplaces and in motor vehicles while persons under the age of 16 are present;
    • Prohibits designated smoking and vaping rooms in workplaces

Services related to this information:

Share This Page:
Last updated: 2024-01-19