Why is smoking an issue for non-smokers?

30 May 2012 | Q&A

There are some 4000 known chemicals in tobacco smoke; at least 250 of them are known to be harmful and more than 50 are known to cause cancer in humans. Tobacco smoke in enclosed spaces is breathed in by everyone, exposing smokers and nonsmokers alike to its harmful effects.

Around 700 million children, or almost half of the world's total, breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke. Over 40% of children have at least one smoking parent. In 2004, children accounted for 31% of the 600 000 premature deaths attributable to second-hand smoke.

In adults, second-hand smoke causes serious cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, including coronary heart disease and lung cancer. In infants, it causes sudden death syndrome. In pregnant women, it causes low birth weight.

Neither ventilation nor filtration, even in combination, can reduce tobacco smoke exposure indoors to levels that are considered acceptable. Only 100% smoke-free environments provide effective protection. Contrary to common belief, smoke-free environments are widely supported by both smokers and nonsmokers.

Having a smoke-free environment often saves money for bars and restaurant owners, reducing their risks of fire and consequently their insurance costs. It often results in lower renovation, cleaning and maintenance costs, too.

Article 8 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, recognizes that exposure to tobacco smoke causes death, disease and disability, and asks countries to adopt and implement legislation that provides protection from second-hand smoke.

Many countries around the world have already introduced laws to protect people from exposure to tobacco smoke in public places. Celebrations around the globe on World No Tobacco Day (31 May) encourage more people and more countries to go smoke-free.

Join the trend by claiming your right to public places that are 100% smoke-free inside.

Related links

Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI)