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Second-hand smoke kills

07-07-2011

Second-hand smoke is the smoke that fills restaurants, offices or other enclosed spaces when people burn tobacco products such as cigarettes, bidis and water pipes. There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke.

Every person should be able to breathe smoke-free air. Smoke-free laws protect the health of non-smokers, are popular, do not harm business and encourage smokers to quit.

  • Only nearly 11% of people are protected by comprehensive national smoke-free laws.    
  • The number of people protected from second-hand smoke more than doubled to 739 million in 2010 from 354 million in 2008.
  • Of the 100 most populous cities, 22 are smoke free.
  • Almost half of children regularly breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke.
  • Over 40% of children have at least one smoking parent.
  • Second-hand smoke causes more than 600,000 premature deaths per year.
  • In 2004, children accounted for 28% of the deaths attributable to second-hand smoke.
  • There are more than 4000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, of which at least 250 are known to be harmful and more than 50 are known to cause cancer.
  • In adults, second-hand smoke causes serious cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, including coronary heart disease and lung cancer. In infants, it causes sudden death. In pregnant women, it causes low birth weight.

Information from the World Health Organization's (WHO) Factsheet Number 339.

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