How Secondhand Smoke Affects Health

Secondhand smoke is defined as the breathing smoke from tobacco cigarettes and the smoke breathed out by a smoker. This ‘passive smoking’ hurts our bodies even if we are not the one doing the smoking. It is important to know how it affects our health to protect ourselves.

Second Hand Smoke

How Does Secondhand Smoke Affect Our Health

Secondhand smoke is dangerous. Period. Passive smoking damages all organs in our body.


One of the first organs in our body that secondhand smoke damages is the heart. SHS raises our blood pressure. BP typically is on the rise in stressful situations. While breathing the smoke of tobacco cigarettes, we create a stressful situation for our heart, and it beats almost as if we’re excited or worried about something.

Over time, our bodies ‘wear out.’ After all, Father Time is undefeated right? Secondhand smoke speeds up the process of ‘wearing out.’ The risk of heart diseases and heart attacks for 30 or 40 somethings is increasing. This can be partially attributed to secondhand smoke.


Secondhand smoke from cigarettes enters our lungs and causes inflammation. This inflammation isn’t as bad as on smokers’ lungs, but make no mistake… it’s not good for a non-smoker. If we breathe in cigarette smoke for years, we can get a chronic cough with mucus. This smoke destroys tiny brushes in our lungs that are called cilia. Cilia protect our lungs from infections. By damaging or killing them with smoke, we become more susceptible to infections.

A comparison can be made to the Coronavirus. COVID reduces people’s immunity, and it’s harder for their bodies to fight disease. Passive smoking isn’t as severe as COVID, but the principle of their operation is the same.


Nicotine stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain. Our brain starts to associate consuming nicotine with pleasure. As addicts we know this quite well. If we stop smoking, our brain feels a lack of pleasure center stimulation. As a result, we feel stress, anxiety, and irritability. In this case, it isn’t surprising that people reach for another cigarette.

This cycle plays out with secondhand smokers a well. When they breathe smoke, they receive nicotine. It goes to their brain and stimulates pleasure centers. As a result, passive smokers want to breathe smoke from cigarettes more and more over time.

Additionally, secondhand smoking can affect the brain and lead to cognitive decline. Cognitive functions are mental processes including memorizing, thinking, judging, learning, and decision making. You may see consequences only in a few years. You may notice that you think slower than in years past or your memory isn’t quite what it once was.


The smoke of tobacco cigarettes damages our eyes as well – ever had the ‘burn’ when you walk through a cloud of smoke? Additionally, it can cause dry eye syndrome. It is a syndrome when there is a lack of tears on tear ducts. Our eyes need to get hydrated by tears. If those tears aren’t there our eyes hurt, itch and get red (bloodshot). Artificial tears can help but they can’t be used long term.


Smoking lowers estrogen levels. Decreases in this female hormone can cause dry skin and thinning hair. Women who smoke may experience difficulties with pregnancy and delivering a healthy child. These risks aren’t as bad with secondhand smoke but are still present.

How to Protect Yourself From SHS Effect

There are several ways you can protect yourself, your friends, and your family from secondhand smoke.

Stop Smoking Near Your Family

If you’re a smoker and have a family, you should stop smoking near them. Not only is it better for YOUR health but you’ll protect your family members from tobacco smoke and the smoke you breath out. Let’s be honest here… if you’re reading this article on this site, you’re thinking about quitting. What are you waiting for?

Avoid Indoor Place Where Smoking is Allowed

If you’re going to go somewhere, make sure it’s a location that is smoke-free. Luckily most locations in the US are becoming smoke free but if you’re going someplace that isn’t… try to find an alternative.

Tell Your Child About Passive Smoking

Teach your children about the dangers of passive smoking. It’s one of the best things you can do for their long term health. You can also protect them from tobacco smoke by avoiding visiting public places that allow smoking.

The Bottom Line

Your health depends on you. Try to avoid places that allow smoking and don’t be close to smokers. If a person near you is smoking, ask him or her to stop doing it. If you’re something together with your classmate, e. g. finding academic writing services or are wondering is EssayPro legit or not, and your classmate smokes, ask them not to smoke around you.

Just because this site is called ‘Kill The CAN’ doesn’t mean we can’t or won’t help smokers quit. After all, the DRUG that we’re addicted to is the same. If you’re looking to quit we’d urge you to join our forums at https://ktcforum.org/. You are NOT alone and being free from nicotine is an amazing thing!

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