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Secondhand Smoke

Get the Facts

The evidence is clear - inhaling smoke from other people's tobacco can lead to disease and premature death in nonsmokers. That's why Santa Clara County is serious about reducing secondhand smoke exposure.

Home & Workplace

  • Non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their risk for heart disease and lung cancer by 20-30 percent
  • Secondhand smoke causes 3,600 heart disease deaths and 400 cancer deaths each year in California non-smokers.
  • Most exposure to secondhand smoke occurs in homes and workplaces.
  • One in seven California workers report being exposed to secondhand smoke in the workplace.
  • Air ventilation systems do not provide adequate protection because they do not remove the smaller particles or gases in secondhand smoke.

Public Health

  • Secondhand smoke is defined as the mixture of gases and fine particles from the tip of a burning cigarette (cigar or pipe) and smoke that has been exhaled by a smoker.
  • Tobacco smoke contains hundreds of toxic chemicals including more than 50 that can cause cancer.
  • The US Surgeon General has concluded that "There is no risk-level of exposure to secondhand smoke."


  • Children are especially vulnerable to secondhand smoke because they are still developing physically and tend to have higher breathing rates - and, in turn, higher quantities of smoke entering their bodies.
  • Hundreds of thousands of U.S. children suffer from pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma attacks and ear infections each year as a result of secondhand smoke exposure.
  • Youth exposed to secondhand smoke at home are one and a half to two times more likely to start smoking than those not exposed.
To learn how to reduce the risk of secondhand smoke to you and your loved ones by visiting

Tobacco-Free Communities Program
1775 Story Road, Suite 120
San Jose, CA 95122
Phone: (408) 793-2700
Fax: (408) 251-4014
Last updated: 1/14/2020 2:07 PM