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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Second-hand smoke

The smoke someone breathes out when they're having a cigarette, or that comes from the end of the cigarette is called second-hand smoke.

Second-hand smoke is dangerous and contains just as many cancer-causing and dangerous substances as the smoke a smoker inhales. Around 350 New Zealanders die each year because they have breathed in second-hand smoke (this is also called passive smoking).

Third hand smoke is also harmful. This is the tobacco chemicals that stay on surfaces and in dust after tobacco has been smoked.

It's most concerning that significant amounts of chemicals can be found in fabrics long after someone last smoked near them.

Young children are especially vulnerable to this because they often touch their hands to their mouth and often mouth soft surfaces and fabrics.

The good news is that if you stop smoking, you'll also stop exposing your whānau/family to second-hand smoke. If you're finding it hard to stop completely, you can still help by not smoking in your house or car.

You can read more information about the health effects of second-hand smoke on the Smokefree website.

On the next page: Protect your children from second-hand smoke

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed May 2021.

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Page reference: 48031

Review key: HIBSF-16604