Secondhand Smoke Statistics (Health Effects Everyone Should Know)

You’ve probably heard that breathing in secondhand smoke is harmful, right?

But how dangerous is it really?

Well, secondhand smoke is an extreme health hazard that has a bigger impact than you may think.

As you’ll learn below in these secondhand smoke statistics, it causes more than 41,000 deaths per year in the United States alone and 58 million Americans are still exposed to secondhand smoke even with public smoking bans in place.

If you have any sort of exposure to secondhand smoke, you should consider using an air purifier. Air purifiers are a special devices that strip the air of harmful pollutants and keep the air around you clean.

To find out more about how air purifiers can help you stay healthy, check out our related article on air purifiers for smoke. It goes over everything you need to know about how to select a machine that eliminates harmful smoke particles from the air you breathe.

With that in mind, let’s dive into the statistics.

Secondhand Smoke Statistics Everyone Should Know

Smoking and Secondhand Smoke are the Leading Causes of Preventable Death

Studies show that secondhand smoke is the leading cause of preventable death around the world.

  • Tobacco use causes roughly 7 million deaths every year around the world and cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States.
  • 41,000 American deaths each year come from exposure to secondhand smoke. That’s about 1,300 deaths per day.
  • Projections indicate that 5.6 million Americans youth under 18 years of age will die prematurely from a smoking-related illness.

Secondhand Smoke Increases Your Risks of Developing Chronic Disease

Whether you smoke yourself or you have exposure to secondhand smoke, you’re at an increased risk for developing a chronic disease.

  • More than 16 million Americans are living with a chronic disease caused by smoking.
  • Secondhand smoke increases risks of developing COPD, lung cancer, and coronary heart disease in adults by as much as 20% to 30%.
  • Children who have secondhand smoke exposure are more likely to develop respiratory infections, asthma, middle ear diseases, and slowed lung growth, or die from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
  • There’s no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure. Even brief exposure can be harmful to a child’s health.

Secondhand Smoke Exposure is Still Prevalent

Even though several states have put bans on smoking in bars and public places, exposure to secondhand smoke is still very common with both adults and children.

  • Around 58 million Americans are still exposed to secondhand smoke.
  • People who live in multi-resident complexes are more prone to secondhand smoke than those who live in single-family homes.
  • Around 45% of children who live in apartments and condos have higher cotinine levels.

Secondhand Smoke Contains Thousands of Chemicals

Unfortunately, secondhand smoke contains over 7,000 different chemicals. Many of these chemicals are carcinogenic, and this means that they have direct links with causing cancer. These chemicals include but are not limited to:

  • Ammonia
  • Benzne
  • Benzo(a)pyrene
  • Cadmium
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Cyanide
  • Lead
  • Nicotine
  • Radioactive Polonium

Secondhand Smoke Exposure is Linked to Income Levels

Income levels also play a role in exposure to secondhand smoke.

  • In 2018, one study showed that 47.9% of people who lived below the national poverty line had consistent exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Exposure level declines as income levels go up and get further away from the poverty line.

Occupation Plays a Role in Secondhand Smoke Exposure

Even though secondhand smoke exposure in the workplace has dropped in recent years, certain occupations still have high exposure levels.

  • Construction workers, service workers, and blue-collar workers have the highest level of secondhand smoke exposure.

Secondhand Smoke Causes Numerous Health Problems

There are several serious health issues linked to inhaling secondhand smoke.

  • Blood clots
  • Heart disease
  • Lung cancer
  • COPD
  • Various types of cancer
  • Respiratory illnesses
  • Cardiovascular events like a stroke or heart attack

Secondhand Smoke is Particularly Harmful to Children

Children don’t have the immune system strength to deal with secondhand smoke.

  • For children 18 months and younger, exposure to secondhand smoke is responsible for between 150,000 to 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections with children and infants.
  • Infections result in around 7,500 to 15,000 hospitalizations on an annual basis.
  • Secondhand smoke exposure causes around 430 SIDS deaths (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) each year in the United States.

Secondhand Smoke Causes Worse Outcomes for People with Lung Cancer

Smoking and secondhand smoke exposure are responsible for the development of lung cancer.

  • Studies show that people who have exposure to cigarette smoke on a first or secondhand basis have worse outcomes than people who don’t.
  • Secondhand smoke brings on a reduced overall survival rate and reduced progression-free survival times.

Secondhand Smoke Exposure Can Trigger Serious Health Issues

When most people think of health issues and links to secondhand smoke, they think of long-term exposure. However, this isn’t always the case.

  • The Institute of Medicine discovered that even minimal or short term exposure to secondhand smoke can trigger a cardiac issue like a heart attack or stroke.
  • Even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can increase your chances of a cardiovascular event by 25% to 30%.

Air Purifiers are a Worthy Investment

As you can see, there are a number of secondhand smoke statistics that are downright scary.

However, there is one simple thing you can do to keep yourself safe from the dangers of secondhand smoke while at home or in the office. And that’s by investing in an air purifier.

Air purifiers can drastically cut down on the level of smoke in the air (as well as other pollutants) and keep the air around you healthy to breathe.

To find out more about air purifiers, take a look at our other article on air purifiers for smoke. It explains what the top features are you should look for in a smoke air purifier and gives you a few high-quality recommendations.