Secondhand Smoke Exposure

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From 2011 to 2012, 40.6% of children aged 3-11 years were currently exposed to second-hand smoke.

Summary graph for Secondhand Smoke Exposure, Click to see detailed view of graph

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Introduction

Conclusive scientific evidence documents that secondhand smoke (SHS) causes premature death and disease in children and adults who do not smoke. Exposure to SHS by adults has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system, and long-term exposure to SHS causes coronary heart disease and lung cancer. Children exposed to SHS are at increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, middle ear disease, more severe asthma, respiratory symptoms, and slowed lung growth.

There is no risk-free level of exposure to SHS, and only eliminating smoking in indoor spaces fully protects nonsmokers from exposure to SHS.

Exposure to secondhand smoke among non-tobacco users can be assessed by measurement of serum cotinine, a metabolite of nicotine. While serum cotinine levels may vary by individual due to the speed of nicotine metabolism and cotinine clearance, detection of serum cotinine above a minimum threshold is a validated measure of exposure to SHS in non-tobacco users.

Measure

The percentage of nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke. (The percentage of nonsmokers aged 3 years and older with a serum cotinine level greater than 0.05 ng/mL and less than or equal to 10 ng/mL.)

Healthy People 2020 Target

  • Reduce the proportion of children aged 3 to 11 years who are regularly exposed to tobacco smoke to 47 percent.
  • Reduce the proportion of adolescents aged 12 to 17 years who are regularly exposed to tobacco smoke to 41 percent.
  • Reduce the proportion of adults exposed to secondhand smoke to 33.8 percent.

Healthy People 2020 is a set of goals set forth by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Data Source

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. “Secondhand smoke exposure” measure.

Trends and Most Recent EstimatesHelp with navigating the graphs and data tables

By Sex

Percentage of nonsmokers aged 3 years and older¹ exposed to secondhand smoke² by sex, 1988-2012
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2011 to 2012)
Percent of nonsmokers Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of nonsmokers aged 3 years and older¹ exposed to secondhand smoke² by sex, 1988-2012 Both SexesClick to see the detailed trend graph for Both Sexes 26.2 (23.8 - 28.6)
MaleClick to see the detailed trend graph for Male 28.5 (26.0 - 30.9)
FemaleClick to see the detailed trend graph for Female 24.3 (21.5 - 27.1)

By Race/Ethnicity

Percentage of nonsmokers aged 3 years and older¹ exposed to secondhand smoke² by race/ethnicity, 1988-2012
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2011 to 2012)
Percent of nonsmokers Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of nonsmokers aged 3 years and older¹ exposed to secondhand smoke² by race/ethnicity, 1988-2012 All RacesClick to see the detailed trend graph for All Races 26.2 (23.8 - 28.6)
Non-Hispanic WhiteClick to see the detailed trend graph for Non-Hispanic White 23.6 (21.0 - 26.3)
Non-Hispanic BlackClick to see the detailed trend graph for Non-Hispanic Black 45.4 (39.0 - 51.9)
HispanicClick to see the detailed trend graph for Hispanic 22.6 (18.1 - 27.0)

By Age

Percentage of nonsmokers aged 3 years and older¹ exposed to secondhand smoke² by age, 1988-2012
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2011 to 2012)
Percent of nonsmokers Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of nonsmokers aged 3 years and older¹ exposed to secondhand smoke² by age, 1988-2012 Ages 3-11Click to see the detailed trend graph for Ages 3-11 40.6 (34.4 - 46.8)
Ages 12-17Click to see the detailed trend graph for Ages 12-17 31.2 (25.6 - 36.8)
Ages 18+Click to see the detailed trend graph for Ages 18+ 23.0 (20.8 - 25.3)

By Sex and Age

Percentage of nonsmokers aged 3 years and older¹ exposed to secondhand smoke² by sex and age, 1988-2012
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2011 to 2012)
Percent of nonsmokers Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of nonsmokers aged 3 years and older¹ exposed to secondhand smoke² by sex and age, 1988-2012 Males, Ages 3-11Click to see the detailed trend graph for Males, Ages 3-11 40.2 (33.0 - 47.4)
Females, Ages 3-11Click to see the detailed trend graph for Females, Ages 3-11 41.0 (34.9 - 47.1)
Males, Ages 12-17Click to see the detailed trend graph for Males, Ages 12-17 31.5 (24.8 - 38.3)
Females, Ages 12-17Click to see the detailed trend graph for Females, Ages 12-17 30.9 (24.2 - 37.6)
Males, Ages 18+Click to see the detailed trend graph for Males, Ages 18+ 26.1 (23.5 - 28.7)
Females, Ages 18+Click to see the detailed trend graph for Females, Ages 18+ 20.6 (17.7 - 23.5)

Adults by Age

Percentage of nonsmokers aged 18 years and older exposed to secondhand smoke¹ by age, 1988-2012
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2011 to 2012)
Percent of nonsmokers Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of nonsmokers aged 18 years and older exposed to secondhand smoke¹ by age, 1988-2012 Ages 18-29Click to see the detailed trend graph for Ages 18-29 37.2 (31.7 - 42.8)
Ages 30+Click to see the detailed trend graph for Ages 30+ 19.2 (17.4 - 20.9)

By Sex and Age

Percentage of nonsmokers aged 18 years and older exposed to secondhand smoke¹ by sex and age, 1988-2012
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2011 to 2012)
Percent of nonsmokers Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of nonsmokers aged 18 years and older exposed to secondhand smoke¹ by sex and age, 1988-2012 Males, Ages 18-29Click to see the detailed trend graph for Males, Ages 18-29 45.7 (38.3 - 53.1)
Females, Ages 18-29Click to see the detailed trend graph for Females, Ages 18-29 30.3 (23.7 - 36.9)
Males, Ages 30+Click to see the detailed trend graph for Males, Ages 30+ 20.7 (18.5 - 22.9)
Females, Ages 30+Click to see the detailed trend graph for Females, Ages 30+ 18.0 (15.7 - 20.2)

By Poverty Income Level

Percentage of nonsmokers aged 3 years and older¹ exposed to secondhand smoke² by poverty income level, 1988-2012
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2011 to 2012)
Percent of nonsmokers Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of nonsmokers aged 3 years and older¹ exposed to secondhand smoke² by poverty income level, 1988-2012 <200% of federal poverty levelClick to see the detailed trend graph for <200% of federal poverty level 35.7 (31.7 - 39.7)
>=200% of federal poverty levelClick to see the detailed trend graph for >=200% of federal poverty level 19.2 (16.6 - 21.7)

By Education Level

Percentage of nonsmokers aged 25 years and older exposed to secondhand smoke¹ by highest level of education obtained, 1988-2012
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2011 to 2012)
Percent of nonsmokers Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of nonsmokers aged 25 years and older exposed to secondhand smoke¹ by highest level of education obtained, 1988-2012 Less than High SchoolClick to see the detailed trend graph for Less than High School 30.7 (26.2 - 35.2)
High SchoolClick to see the detailed trend graph for High School 30.3 (24.5 - 36.1)
Greater than High SchoolClick to see the detailed trend graph for Greater than High School 15.9 (14.2 - 17.7)

Additional Information on Secondhand Smoke

For the public

Scientific reports

Statistics

Year Range

1988-2012

Recent Summary Trend Year Range

2007-2012

Summary Tables

Secondhand Smoke

Recent Summary Trend

Falling

Desired Direction

Falling