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Asthma Triggers: Gain Control

Secondhand Smoke

About secondhand smoke and asthma

picture of person holding smoking cigarette depicting asthma trigger - SHS
Secondhand smoke is the smoke from a cigarette, cigar or pipe, and the smoke exhaled by a smoker. Secondhand smoke contains more than 4,000 substances, including several compounds that cause cancer.

Secondhand smoke can trigger asthma episodes and increase the severity of attacks. Secondhand smoke is also a risk factor for new cases of asthma in preschool-aged children. Children's developing bodies make them more susceptible to the effects of secondhand smoke and, due to their small size, they breathe more rapidly than adults, thereby taking in more secondhand smoke. Children receiving high doses of secondhand smoke, such as those with smoking parents, run the greatest relative risk of experiencing damaging health effects.

Actions you can take

  • Don't let anyone smoke near your child.
  • If you smoke — until you can quit, don't smoke in your home or car.

Additional resources

picture of brochure Secondhand Tobacco Smoke and the Health of Your Family Brochure

Secondhand Tobacco Smoke and the Health of Your Family Brochure (PDF) (2 pp, 1.55 M, about PDF) [EPA 402/F/09/004]

Environmental Asthma Triggers

For all EPA asthma resources and publications, visit the Publications webpage.

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