First Time User? Enroll now.
Notice of Data Security Incident
COVID-19: Vaccine information and additional resources | Medicaid: The program is changing and you must take steps to keep your UNC Health providers
Home > Health Library > Secondhand smoke
Secondhand smoke is tobacco smoke that affects a nonsmoker. Secondhand smoke can come directly from a cigarette or other lit tobacco; it may also be exhaled by a person smoking.
Secondhand smoke is sometimes referred to as environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), involuntary smoking, or passive smoking.
Secondhand smoke contains the same cancer-causing and lung-damaging chemicals that affect smokers. Repeated exposure to secondhand smoke over many years can cause damage to a nonsmoker's lungs that is similar to that of a smoker's.
Secondhand smoke is the most important risk factor for cancer among nonsmokers, far greater than other known cancer-causing substances. Secondhand smoke is most harmful to:
Current as of: February 11, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Michael F. Bierer MD - Internal Medicine, Addiction Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.