Secondhand smoke is a mix of the smoke from the lit end of your cigarette and the smoke you breathe out. Non-smokers who breathe in secondhand smoke take in toxic chemicals the same way smokers do (American Cancer Society).
Smoke from the end of a cigarette is even more toxic and has smaller particles which make their way into the lungs and the body’s cells more easily (American Cancer Society).
Evidence shows nearly 85% of secondhand smoke is invisible and odourless, which means it lingers long after you can see it or smell it.
You might think a cigarette is just tobacco wrapped in paper, but it’s much more than that. When a cigarette burns it releases a dangerous cocktail of over 5,000 different chemicals.
Some of these chemicals are found naturally in tobacco, some are absorbed by the plant from the soil, air or fertilisers, others are formed when tobacco leaves are processed, while others form when the cigarette burns (Cancer Research UK).
Many of these chemicals are poisonous and more than 70 may cause cancer (International Agency for Research on Cancer/ IARC).
Courtesy of Cancer Research UK
Opening a window or restricting smoking to a specific room does little to protect against exposure to secondhand smoke. This means it will still be there when your kids come home from school.
And because it's made up of particles that are smaller than household dust, it moves easily from room to room, as you move around and open doors.
Watch our film to discover whether it is ever safe to smoke indoors..
Children are more vulnerable to secondhand smoke. They have smaller airways, breathe faster, and their lungs and immune systems are still developing.
Secondhand smoke can affect children of all ages. The Royal College of Physicians report Passive Smoking and Children detailed the harm this causes to families across the UK:
In the longer term, passive smokers suffer an increased risk of a range of smoking-related diseases.
Exposure to secondhand smoke has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and can cause coronary heart disease and stroke. Even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can damage the lining of blood vessels and cause your blood platelets to become stickier (US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention).
Exposure to secondhand smoke also increases risk of lung cancer and heart disease in non-smokers (International Agency for Research on Cancer).
Even if you open a window, smoke in a different room or smoke at the open back door it's not enough to protect your family .
And when you consider the harmful effects that secondhand smoke can have on your child's developing lungs, it's not worth the risk to smoke indoors.
Everyone's situation is different - we can help you find ways to keep your home smokefree.
The best way to protect your family from the hidden dangers of secondhand smoke is to find ways of quitting or take it right outside, making sure you shut windows and doors behind you so the smoke doesn't drift back in.
Find out more about the hidden dangers of secondhand smoke
Or, for help quitting visit ways of quitting