Drugs & Health Blog

Are You a “Secondhand Smoker”?

The NIDA Blog Team

Fewer teens are smoking now than any time in the past 40 years—which is amazing. But according to a study published earlier this year, about half of U.S. students in grades 6 through 12 were exposed to secondhand smoke in 2013. This was true even for students who never used tobacco!

But the study also had some good news: The teens who had smoke-free rules in their homes and cars were much less likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke.

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

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

These risks are nowhere near as high as if you are the smoker, but they are definitely risks worth reducing whenever you can. And in this case, it may be easier than you think.

What can you do to clear the air?

Here are some ways you can try to avoid secondhand smoke:

  • Support friends and family who are trying to quit smoking. People are more likely to quit for good when their friends and family encourage them.
  • Politely ask your friends (and maybe your family) to not smoke when you’re in the car or in the same room. Or excuse yourself from the room while they smoke.
  • Pick restaurants that don’t allow smoking. (Many states and cities are banning smoking in restaurants, but some places still allow it.)
  • Move away from people near you who are smoking. (Okay, that one is kind of obvious, but it works!)

If you’re a teen, it can be anywhere from awkward to downright unthinkable to say anything to your parents about their smoking. But you may want to learn more about the dangers of secondhand smoke. You never know, you may someday have a chance to (respectfully) share your concerns with your parents.

Get some breathing room

You can’t guarantee that 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.

Staying Healthy
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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