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NC Department of Health and Human Services
NC DPH: Chronic Disease and Injury Section

Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch

SmokeFreeNC: Secondhand Smoke

Why is important to have laws to protect workers and the public from secondhand smoke? Secondhand smoke is known to increase non-smokers’ risk of developing lung cancer and heart disease. It can also cause asthma in small children and is a trigger for asthma attacks or even heart attacks.

secondhand smoke exposure is known to cause strokes in nonsmokers

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 2014 Surgeon General's Report

The 2014 Surgeon General's Report reveals more health problems caused by secondhand smoke, including stroke. Here’s an infographic on deaths caused by secondhand tobacco smoke.

 2009 Institute of Medicine Report

The Institute of Medicine released a report in October, 2009, Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects: Making Sense of the Evidence. This report provides a comprehensive review of the science on the relationship between secondhand smoke exposure and heart attack.  The report was requested by CDC, but the review was conducted independently by the Institute of Medicine.

Major conclusions of the report:

  • The evidence is consistent with a causal relationship between secondhand smoke exposure and acute coronary events, including acute myocardial infarctions.
  • It is biologically plausible for a relatively brief exposure to secondhand smoke to precipitate an acute coronary event.
  • There is a causal relationship between smoke-free laws and decreases in acute coronary events.

2006 Surgeon General Report

After reviewing all the data, the U.S. Surgeon General released a report in 2006 describing all the dangers of secondhand smoke.

Additional Materials

SmokefreeNC Information






Updated: February 26, 2020