Hazardous to healthy adults

Chronic exposure to second-hand smoke increases lung cancer risk in a dose-related fashion.1 ETS has been classified by the EPA as a known cause of lung cancer in humans. Secondhand smoke has been estimated by the EPA to cause about 3,000 lung cancer deaths in nonsmokers each year. This conclusion, more than any other, has prompted people to increase efforts to limit ETS at home, in the workplace and in public places.

Exposure to ETS can cause irritation to eyes, nose and throat. It can also irritate the lungs, lead to coughing, excess mucus production and reduced lung function. Pulmonary function naturally declines with age. ETS exposure significantly hastens this decline. One research study found that nonsmokers who had lived at least 15 years with smokers had poorer scores on pulmonary (lung) function tests compared to nonsmokers who did not live with smokers.6 Another study concluded that nonsmokers who were chronically exposed to ETS had a reduction in airway function that resembled that of light smokers.

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