Evidence shows that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke harms everyone who is exposed to it. Millions of Americans are exposed to the concentrations of many cancer-causing and toxic chemicals that are in secondhand smoke either at home, in the workplace, or other places such as bars and clubs. Despite substantial progress in tobacco control secondhand smoke continues to be a problem.
Secondhand Smoke in the Workplace
Nearly 30 percent (according to the Surgeon General) of indoor workers are not covered by a smoke-free workplace policy. Separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air, or ventilation systems are enough to protect nonsmokers from the health effects of secondhand smoke. In fact some of these systems can distribute the toxins throughout the building.
There are many places a person can be exposed to secondhand smoke such as bars and night clubs. Just hanging out with friends and family while smoking can have negative health effects.
Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke
Secondhand smoke can cause cancer in nonsmokers, in fact their risk of developing lung cancer increases by 20 to 30 percent. It can also cause breathing problems and heart disease. Individuals who breathe secondhand smoke tend to get colds and the flu easier than those who aren’t exposed. Breathing in secondhand smoke for even a short time can have immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and interferes with the normal functioning of the heart, blood, and vascular systems in ways that increase their risk of a heart attack.