Secondhand/Thirdhand Smoke & Aerosol

What are secondhand/thirdhand smoke and vaping aerosols?

Secondhand Smoking & Vaping

Thirdhand Smoking & Vaping

Comes from actually burning tobacco or heating it through cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and electronic cigarettes and a person breathing it in. 

It is the air around the smoker. 

Comes from the aftermath exposure of the smoke that lingers around. It stays in the environment attaching to furniture, clothes, walls, carpet, toys, fabrics, etc.

Even though someone is no longer smoking, the after-effects will stay in the setting’s surroundings

Secondhand Smoke:

Secondhand smoke is a mixture of: 

  • The smoke created by the burning ends of cigarettes, cigars, and pipes
  • And the smoke exhaled by someone who is smoking.

In 2010, the U.S. Surgeon General issued the report: How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease. The report concluded “There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. Any exposure to tobacco smoke – even an occasional cigarette or exposure to secondhand smoke – is harmful.”

Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals and chemical compounds. At least 70 of them are known specifically to cause cancer. In 2006, the Surgeon General found that secondhand smoke is a proven cause of lung cancer, heart disease, serious respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis and asthma, low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome. The Surgeon General also found that secondhand smoke is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in the United States each year.

Only smoke-free air laws provide effective protection from secondhand smoke.

(Information from Tobacco Free Nebraska)

Secondhand Aerosol:

The use of e-cigarettes and vaping devices is on the rise. In 2016, the Surgeon General issued the report, E-Cigarette Use among Youth and Young Adults, and concluded that e-cigarette aerosol is not a harmless water vapor that is emitted but rather can contain harmful chemicals. Most aerosol is a mixture of nicotine, tiny particles of metal, and chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm. Much like cigarette smoke, e-cigarette aerosol produces ultrafine particles, which settle deeply into the lungs when inhaled by people using it or near it. 

Secondhand e-cigarette aerosol can contain harmful chemicals including:

  • Nicotine
  • Fine and ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs
  • Flavorings such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious lung disease
  • Volatile organic compounds such as benzene, which is found in car exhaust
  • Heavy metals, such as nickel, tin, and lead

The Surgeon General states that while e-cigarettes generally emit fewer toxic chemicals than e-cigarettes, e-cigarette aerosol potentially exposes bystanders to nicotine and other harmful substances.

(Information from Tobacco Free Nebraska)

Thirdhand Smoke:

Thirdhand smoke is the residue left over from the smoke emitted by cigarettes or any other heated tobacco products. It can linger in the air and remain on clothes even after leaving the environment where the smoking took place. You can be exposed to thirdhand smoke through the mouth, lungs, and skin. This can occur by touching contaminated surfaces, eating contaminated objects, and breathing in the air. 

Layers can build and absorb on surfaces, leaving behind gasses and chemicals like carcinogens and heavy metals—arsenic, lead, and cyanide. Chemicals in thirdhand smoke can result in an increased risk of cancer, damage DNA, reduce the ability to heal injuries, lower the ability to fight infection, damage cells, cause earaches, trigger asthma attacks, worsen respiratory illness, increase the risk of disease, and cause headaches.