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Secondhand Smoke Dangers

"The scientific evidence indicates that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke."  The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General, Atlanta, GA: U.S. DHHS CDC Office on Smoking or Health 2006.

Secondhand smoke, a combination of the smoke in the air from a burning cigarette, cigar, or pipe and the smoke exhaled by a person who is smoking, poses a health threat to everyone who comes in contact with it.

Secondhand Smoke is Harmful to Children

Maine has strong laws making restaurants, bars, and many public places smoke-free so its residents can breathe healthy air. Exposure to secondhand smoke is most prevalent in home environments. Currently 75.8% of Maine homes have pledged to make their home smokefree. This pledge will serve to protect the home bound, elderly and especially children. 

Because a child’s body is still growing, these chemicals in secondhand smoke are especially dangerous to their health.

Children who breathe secondhand smoke are more likely to develop ear infections, allergies, bronchitis, pneumonia, and asthma. It can even lead to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Older children whose parents smoke get sick more often. They get more bronchitis and pneumonia, and experience more wheezing and coughing. It can trigger asthma attacks and increase instances of painful ear infections. They are also more likely to become smokers themselves due to the social norm that their parent(s) have demonstrated.

Get the facts and resources about secondhand smoke exposure, health effects, and smoke-free initiatives at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Secondhand Smoke is Harmful to Unborn Babies

Mothers who smoke while pregnant are more likely to have their baby die of SIDS.

During pregnancy, many of the compounds in secondhand smoke change the way a baby’s brain develops. Its exposure is a known cause of sudden infant death syndrome, the sudden, unexplained death of an infant before age one. Babies who are around secondhand smoke after they are born are also more likely to die of SIDS than children who are not around secondhand smoke.

Babies whose mothers are around secondhand smoke are more likely to have lower birth weights, as well. Babies can have more health problems and more infections, their lungs are more likely to not develop normally, and they are more likely to have weaker lungs – a problem that can get worse as they get older.

Find out more about the risk of secondhand smoke to unborn babies at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Know the Risks: Never Expose Your Child to Secondhand Smoke

Smoke-Free Homes Pledge: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began the effort of encouraging all parents to pledge to ban smoking in their home. In Maine, a new effort under the Smoke-Free Housing Initiative provides a free Smoke-Free Homes Pledge kit. Go to Smoke-Free Housing Coalition of Maine to learn more and to have a free pledge kit sent to your home.

Maine's new law banning smoking by the driver or any passenger whever a child under age 16 is present is also in place to protect children. Be sure that you follow this law, and that you remind any caregivers, family members and grandparents to never smoke in their vehicle.

If you still smoke, "Take it Outside"

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more information about the myth of ventilation. Remember, ventilation doesn't work, "smoke-eater machines" don't work and rolling the car window down while you smoke doesn't keep the smoke outside of your vehicle.

Learn about all of Maine's secondhand smoke laws and do your best to follow them. Your children will thank you.

Find out more about secondhand smoke prevention by viewing our Parents page, or get the facts about how Maine’s Special Populations are at increased risk of being exposed to and exposing others to secondhand smoke.

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