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Overall Effects

Even a half an hour of secondhand smoke exposure causes heart damage similar to that of a pack a day smoker. Overall negative health effects of secondhand smoke include:



  • A half hour of secondhand smoke exposure activates blood platelets, which can initiate the process of arteriosclerosis (blockage of the heart's arteries) that leads to a heart attack.
  • Nonsmokers' arteries showed a reduced ability to dilate, restricting blood flow into the heart.
  • Secondhand smoke causes about 48,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease each year.
  • Secondhand smoke is accountable for immediate and chronic coronary heart disease sickness.



  • Secondhand smoke is a known cause of lung cancer, responsible for about 53,000 deaths annually in U.S. nonsmokers.


Eyes and Nose

  • Secondhand smoke exposure causes eye and nasal irritation.
  • Secondhand smoke can cause nasal sinus cancer.


Sources: National Cancer Institute, Smoking and Health Monograph 10, 1999. Journal of American Medical Association, 2001.