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Secondhand smoke, or passive smoking, can affect the health of people who do not smoke. There is clear evidence of the harms of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke in pregnancy, to children (higher rates of respiratory and middle ear infections, meningococcal infections and asthma) and adults (increased risk of lung cancer, coronary heart disease and stroke).217 The evidence for the health effects of secondhand smoking has been summarised by a number of health authorities including the National Health and Medical Research Council.12,92,149,218 The US Department of Health and Human Services has stated that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. Any exposure to tobacco smoke – even an occasional cigarette or exposure to secondhand smoke – is harmful,24 especially to children.219
There is a lack of evidence on the effectiveness of counselling non-smokers to limit exposure to tobacco smoke. There is evidence that providing information to parents on the harms of exposing children to environmental tobacco smoke can reduce their exposure.109 Due to the evidence of harms from exposure, non-smokers, especially parents of babies and young children and pregnant women, should be strongly advised to limit exposure to tobacco smoke. Smoking parents should be encouraged not to smoke in the house or in a confined space such as a motor vehicle at any time.
Introducing smoking restrictions into the home can assist quitting smoking successfully. Level IV
People attempting to quit should be advised to ban or restrict smoking by others in their homes. Strength C