For your family’s sake never smoke indoors

Secondhand smoke is toxic. When you smoke indoors, secondhand smoke lingers in the air for hours – long after you can see it or smell it.

No amount of secondhand smoke is safe. Even if you smoke at the back door or open a window, the smoke still gets back into the house. It can seep between rooms and under doors.


Children breathe faster than adults so they breathe in more of the toxic chemicals in smoke. Children exposed to SHS are more at risk of asthma, coughs and colds, ear problems, chest infections, meningitis and sudden infant death.  Children of all ages are at risk because their lungs and immune systems aren’t fully developed until they are teenagers.

Woman with oxygen


Secondhand smoke raises the risks of lung cancer and heart disease.  Candles, air fresheners and purifiers might hide the smell of smoke, but they can’t get rid of the harmful toxins.

Image of white smoke drifting across black background

What is secondhand smoke?

Secondhand smoke is a mix of the smoke from the lit end of your cigarette and the smoke you breathe out.  It means if you smoke indoors, people around you are also breathing in toxic chemicals.  The smoke from the end of your burning cigarette is called “sidestream smoke” and it is even more toxic than the smoke you inhale. Smoke from the end of a cigarette has smaller particles which make their way into the lungs and the body’s cells more easily (American Cancer Society).  Evidence shows nearly 85% of secondhand smoke is invisible and odourless, which means it lingers long after you can see it or smell it

If you can’t get outside and aren’t ready to quit, could you go longer between cigarettes until you next go out? You could try nicotine spray, gum, patches or lozenges to get you through? Or if it helps keep your home smokefree, evidence suggests vaping/ e-cigarettes are much less harmful than smoking


You might think a cigarette is just tobacco wrapped in paper, but it’s much more than that. When a cigarette burns it releases a dangerous cocktail of over 5,000 different chemicals.  Some of these chemicals are found naturally in tobacco, some are absorbed by the plant from the soil, air or fertilisers, others are formed when tobacco leaves are processed, while others form when the cigarette burns.  Many of these chemicals are poisonous and more than 70 cause cancer:

  • carbon monoxide – release in car exhaust fumes
  • arsenic
  • benzene – found in gasoline
  • hydrogen cyanide
  • ammonia – a common household cleaner
  • butane – found in lighter fluid
  • tar – a sticky brown substance