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Drugs & Health Blog

Are You a “Secondhand Smoker”?

The NIDA Blog Team

We published this post originally in 2016. This update reflects current research as of November 2019. 

Teens continue to get the message that smoking is risky business. In 2018, 8 in 100 high school seniors reported smoking a cigarette in the past month. In 1997, that number was about four times higher (nearly 37 in 100).

But what about secondhand smoke—smoke that's exhaled or given off by the burning end of tobacco products?

According to a study published earlier this year, from 2013 to 2016, more than one in three (35.4%) U.S. youth aged 3 to 17 who don’t smoke were exposed to secondhand smoke from burning cigarettes, cigars, or pipes.

Why does this matter? Because secondhand smoke comes with some of the same risks as smoking:

  • Exposure to harmful chemicals.
  • Increased risk for lung cancer.
  • Higher risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Because of the serious risks associated with secondhand smoke, it’s worth steering clear of it whenever you can. Here are some ways you can reduce your exposure to secondhand smoke:

  • Support friends and family who are trying to quit smoking. People are more likely to quit for good when they feel encouraged by people who care for them. For support in quitting, including free quit coaching, a free quit plan, free educational materials, and referrals to local resources, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).
  • Politely ask your friends (and maybe your family) to not smoke when you’re in the car or in the same room. Ask them to smoke outside, or excuse yourself from the room while they smoke.
  • Move away from people near you who are smoking. (Okay, that one is kind of obvious, but it works!)

You can’t guarantee you’ll never be exposed to secondhand smoke, but you can take some steps to protect your health:

  • If you smoke, make a plan to quit.
  • If you don’t smoke, don’t start!
  • And when you can, avoid breathing in secondhand smoke.
Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


Yes i am
My dad used to smoke when I was very little. I never knew how bad it was for you, until my mom started to cry one night about it. I used to always sit by him when he smoked in the garage, car, front porch. Now I feel guilty for not trying to stop him. One week we went to Disney World and we had to keep stopping, so he can smoke. Now finally we were able to make him stop and he's been a non-smoker for 4 years now. I'm so proud.
You should be proud your father stopped a addicting bad habit he must've known how bad it was for him and for all the people around him. you should be supper around it takes a lot to stop a addicting habit for that long.
thats great
that is nice to know:)
hi this blog was kool i had to read it for ma teen health class tanks
bro same
Cool man
When i was younger my dad used to smoke.
This Organization is amazing! I have to read this for health class, but i still enjoy it! Thanks! #NeverSmoking
Lots of great information from the blog post and very insightful. Thanks for the information! AVOID SECOND-HAND SMOKE!!!!!
Thank you, I used this information for my health project and it was very useful!

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