In Ontario, more than 160,000 young people under age 18 were regularly exposed to second-hand smoke in their homes and family vehicles in 2006. Furthermore, 12,000 to 15,000 children suffer from asthma each year because of exposure to second-hand smoke in their homes, family vehicles, or vacation accommodations. The Lung Association’s Smoke-Free Homes and Asthma program addresses this problem of smoking and second-hand smoke exposure as a cause of asthma symptoms. This program links asthma, smoking prevention and education efforts at the community level.
The purpose of the Smoke-Free Homes and Asthma program is to increase the number of homes that are smoke-free in Ontario and to raise awareness of second-hand smoke as a trigger for asthma. Those at greatest risk are children, teens and adults who have asthma and live in homes where smoking is allowed.
Children exposed to second-hand smoke:
- Have more asthma attacks
- Have asthma attacks that are more severe
- Have more ear infections
- Are admitted to hospital more often
The Lung Association is developing a long-term plan based on past and current research, to protect children and all individuals exposed to second-hand smoke in their homes and vehicles.
Most people know the dangers from smoking and second-hand smoke. But what about third-hand smoke? There is more and more research that suggests that third-hand smoke may be more cause for concern than previously thought. The invisible toxic mixture of chemicals (e.g., lead, arsenic) that make up third-hand smoke sticks around long after a cigarette is put out.
Third-hand smoke can be found:
- On hair, body, clothes of someone who smokes
- In carpets and furniture
- On floors and walls
- In vehicles
- On children’s toys
Children are at a much higher risk of exposure to third-hand smoke. They spend more time on floors and put their hands to their mouths often. They have more contact with surfaces where the toxins have settled, such as the floor or furniture. They can breathe in the third-hand smoke residue and if they touch it, they can even swallow it. Poisons from the cigarette smoke enter their bodies.
Using scented products or air fresheners doesn’t get rid of it. They only mask the smell by adding another layer of chemicals to what is already there. The smoke from even one cigarette smoked anywhere indoors will eventually reach all areas of the home. For the health of everyone, keep the air clean by banning smoking in your home and vehicle. Ask people who smoke to take it outside every time. If you smoke, think about quitting.
Smoke-Free Homes Resources
For more information or to order smoke-free homes resources:
Lung Health Information Line: 1-888-344-LUNG (5864)
Available to residents of Ontario, Mon-Fri, 8:30am-4:30pm. Certified Respiratory Educators can help you understand and take control of your asthma.
Smoke-Free Homes Resource Centre