Tobacco Issues

What is secondhand smoke?

Secondhand smoke is the smoke given off by the burning end of tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, pipes, etc.) and the smoke exhaled by the smoker.  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.

Why is secondhand smoke so dangerous?

  • Non-smokers absorb the same nicotine and other poisonous chemicals that smokers do

  • Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals; hundreds are known to be toxic and about 70 can cause cancer

  • The more you are exposed to secondhand smoke, the greater the level of harmful chemicals in your body

What are the health effects of secondhand smoke?

Secondhand smoke can cause many serious health problems, Including:

  • Heart disease and heart attacks

  • Lung cancer, breast cancer, and other cancers

  • Respiratory infections and other lung problems

  • Asthma and more frequent and severe asthma attacks

  • Ear infections and eye and nose irritation

  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)

How can you protect yourself or someone you care about?

  • Quit Smoking and help others around you quit 

  • Make your home and car smoke-free zones

  • Make sure caregivers do not smoke around your children

  • Visit smoke-free restaurants and public places

  • Teach children how to politely ask people not to smoke around them

  • Learn how to protect yourself and your children from thirdhand smoke

  • If your workplace is not yet smoke-free, ask your employer to consider a smoke-free business policy

How can you keep smoke out of your home?

If you share a building:

  • Check your lease, renter's agreement, condo association documents for a no-smoking or "nuisance" policy 

  • Let others know, as they may not be aware of the problem until you say something

  • Get help - Talk to your landlord, property manager, and your neighbors
  • If there is a tenant's association, communicate your concerns, as others may have similar issues

  • Document how the smoke is getting into your home

  • Bring any health issues to the attention of the facility manager

Clearing the Air for Good

No level of secondhand smoke exposure is safe.  The only way to keep a multi-unit building 100% free from secondhand smoke is to make the entire building smoke-free.  A smoke-free poicy can save a facility manager cleaning and maintenance costs and ensure everyone can breathe smoke-free air in their home.

  • Document the problem and share information with your property manager

  • Find more information for property managers and landlords at Breathe Better In Healthy Homes 
  • Contact your elected officials, such as your NH state representative with concerns about current smoking policies in the state 
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper to bring attention to the issue in your community  

Concerns about Secondhand Smoke?

If you live or work in New Hampshire


CDC Vital Signs- Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke 

Smoke-free Housing – Live Smoke Free - Saint Paul MN

Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights - In Your Home 


Publications pdf 

Secondhand Smoke Brochure

Protect Yourself from Secondhand Smoke Brochure

Tobacco Smoke Fact Sheet 


Secondhand Smoke Fact Sheet


Secondhand Smoke and Pets

Thirdhand Smoke Fact Sheet


Thirdhand Smoke & Buildings