Smoking doesn’t just affect the person who smokes. People who do not smoke are exposed to “secondhand smoke,” which comes from both the exhaled smoke and from the smoke floating from the end of a cigarette, cigar, or pipe. Inhaling secondhand smoke increases a person’s risk of developing heart disease by 25 to 30 percent and lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent. In fact, secondhand smoke is estimated to contribute to as many as 40,000 deaths related to heart disease and about 3,000 lung cancer deaths per year among people who do not smoke. Secondhand smoke also causes respiratory problems in people who do not smoke, like coughing, phlegm, and reduced lung function.
Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, ear problems, and more severe asthma. And, believe it or not, dropped cigarettes are the leading cause of residential fire fatalities, leading to more than 700 such deaths each year.
Each year, almost half a million Americans die from tobacco use. One of every five deaths in the United States is a result of tobacco use, making tobacco more lethal than all other addictive drugs combined.