Fresh Air For All

Florida has made many achievements in protecting its residents from the harmful effects of tobacco. Since 2007, with the help of Tobacco Free Florida, there are nearly half a million fewer adult smokers in the state.[1] Yet, both tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) remain a critical issue.

Exposure to SHS is a serious problem that should not be overlooked. This year’s Tobacco Free Florida Week theme, “Fresh Air for All,” takes a closer look at how SHS impacts everyone. SHS is a deadly mix of 7,000 chemicals, hundreds of which are toxic and 69 that are proven to cause cancer.[2]

Each year, primarily because of exposure to SHS, an estimated 3,000 nonsmoking Americans die of lung cancer and more than 46,000 nonsmoking Americans die of heart disease.[3] In other words, for every eight smokers who die from smoking, one innocent bystander dies from secondhand smoke.[4]

SHS is classified as a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. National Toxicology Program, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a branch of the World Health Organization (WHO).The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has even concluded that SHS is an occupational carcinogen.[5]

There is no risk-free level of exposure to SHS. Even breathing SHS for short periods of time, like at a bar or a nightclub, can be dangerous.[6] When you breathe SHS, platelets in your blood get sticky and may form clots, just like in a person who smokes. New research shows that simply spending time in a smoky room could trigger a heart attack.[7] Non-smokers who are exposed to SHS increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25 to 30 percent and of developing lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent.[8]

One of the most important ways to protect yourself and the ones you love from the health hazards of SHS is to live in 100 percent smoke-free housing. A home should be a safe place for children. Yet, the main place young children breathe SHS is in their own homes. Exposure to SHS increases their risk of respiratory infections and even common ear infections. Children with asthma, who are exposed to cigarette smoke, are likely to experience more frequent and more severe attacks.[9]

Florida residents benefit from a statewide tobacco prevention and cessation program, as well as Florida’s Clean Indoor Air Act (FCIAA), which protects people from the hazards of SHS. In 2003, the FCIAA was amended to prohibit smoking in indoor workplaces. While the FCIAA protects many, countless Floridians in the nightlife industry, construction and other blue-collar industries are involuntarily exposed to the dangers of SHS while making a living and providing for their families.

Comprehensive smoke-free air laws are crucial to protecting all Floridians from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. Yet, the simplest step you can take is to quit or to help someone quit. For information on the resources available to help you quit, please visit www.tobaccofreeflorida.com.


[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey Data. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010

[2] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2010.

[3] American Cancer Society, Source: Cancer Facts & Figures 2010

[4] University of Minnesota, School of Periodontology, Second Hand Smoke Facts. 2003

[5] The Surgeon General, Second Hand Smoke Fact Sheet 6

[6] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coordinating Center for Health Promotion, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2006

[7] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2010.

[8] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coordinating Center for Health Promotion, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2006

[9] Surgeon General: The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke, A Report of the Surgeon General. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA; 2006.