Second–hand smoke

Importance of indicator
Background
Highlights and graphs
References

To measure regular exposure to second–hand smoke in the home, non-smokers were asked:

  • "Including both household members and regular visitors, does anyone smoke inside your home every day or almost every day?" (Yes/No)

To measure regular exposure to second-hand smoke in private vehicles and/or public places, non-smokers were asked:

  • "In the past month, were you exposed to second-hand smoke every day or almost every day in a car or other private vehicle?" (Yes/No)

  • "In the past month, were you exposed to second-hand smoke every day or almost every day in public places (such as bars, restaurants, shopping malls, arenas, bingo halls, bowling alleys)?" (Yes/No)

Importance of indicator

Second–hand smoke is a combination of the smoke exhaled by smokers and the smoke released directly into the air from the tips of burning cigarettes, pipes and cigars.  Prolonged exposure to second-hand smoke increases the risk of lung cancer, heart disease, asthma, bronchitis, middle-ear infections, pneumonia and other respiratory problems1,2,3,4.

Monitoring trends in second-hand smoke exposure helps identify the non–smoking population whose health may be compromised by exposure, and also helps in the evaluation of programmes and policies aimed at eliminating this exposure.

Background

The prevalence of smoking has declined in recent years, and smoking restrictions in the home have increased5. Both of these factors may reduce exposure to second–hand smoke in the home.

Children and youth are particularly susceptible to negative effects of second–hand smoke, but are least likely to have control over whether they are exposed6.

Males were more likely than females to be exposed to second–hand smoke7.

Exposure rates to second–hand smoke in public places have varied by province and territory over time, reflecting the different dates when legislation was introduced to restrict smoking in pubic buildings5. Variations in the prevalence of current smoking across the country may also influence the likelihood of exposure to second-hand smoke.

Several provinces and territories have introduced legislation to ban smoking in cars when children are present. 

Highlights and graphs

Time trend

Description

Description

Graph 2.1 - Age-standardized percentage of non-smokers regularly exposed to second hand smoke by sex and location, household population 12 or older, Canada, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2008.

  • Among non-smoking Canadians, the age–standardized percentage exposed to second-hand smoke in private vehicles and/or public places has declined since 2003.
  • Exposure to second-hand smoke in the home also declined between 2003 and 2008. 
  • Males were more likely than females to report regular exposure to second-hand smoke in both locations.

Note: Age–standardized, direct method to 1991 Canada population.

Age group and sex

Description

Description

Graph 2.2 - Percentage of non-smokers regularly exposed to second-hand smoke, by age group, sex and location, household population aged 12 or older, Canada, 2008.

  • In 2008, non–smokers were much more likely to report exposure to second-hand smoke in a private vehicle and/or public place (15.7% of males and 13.8% of females) than in the home (7.3% of males and 6.0% of females).
  • Age is associated with exposure to second–hand smoke. Children and youth are more likely to be exposed to second-hand smoke than are Canadians overall.
  • Despite the declines in the percentage of people exposed to second–hand smoke, in 2008, an estimated 3.2 million non–smokers reported exposure in a private vehicle and/or public place, and 1.5 million reported exposure in their home.

Province

Description

Graph 2.3 - Age-standardized percentage of non-smokers regularly exposed to second-hand smoke by location, household population aged 12 or older, Canada, provinces and territories, 2008 .

  • In 2008, the age–standardized percentage of Canadians exposed to second-hand smoke in the home was higher than the estimate for Canada overall in Quebec and New Brunswick.
  • The percentages of non–smokers in Alberta and British Columbia reporting exposure to second-hand smoke in the home were lower than the estimate for Canada overall.
  • The percentages of non–smokers in the Northwest Territories and Yukon reporting regular exposure to second-hand smoke in private vehicles and/or public places were lower than the estimate for Canada overall.

Note: Age–standardized, direct method to 1991 Canada population.

References

1. US Department of Health and Human Services. The health consequences of involuntary smoking: A report of the Surgeon General. 1986. (DHHS Publication no. (CDC) 87-8398). Washington DC: US Department of Health and Human Services, 1987.

2. US Department of Health and Human Services. Reducing the health consequences of smoking:25 years of progress. A report of the Surgeon General. (DHHS Publication no. (DCD) 89-8411) Atlanta, Georgia: US Department of Health and Human Services, 1989.

3. De Groh M, Morrison H. Environmental Tobacco Smoke and Deaths from Coronary Disease in Canada. Chronic Diseases in Canada 2002; 23, 13-16.

4. Ugnat AM, Mao Y, Miller, AB. Effects of residential exposure to environmental tobacco smoke on Canadian children. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 1990;81, 345–349.

5. Shields M. Smoking – prevalence, bans and exposure to second-hand smoke. Health Reports (Statistics Canada, Catalogue 82-003) 2007;18(3):67-85.

6. Health Canada. Make your home and car smoke-free: A guide to protecting your family from second-hand smoke. (Catalogue H128-1/05-437-1E). Ottawa, Ontario: Health Canada 2006.

7. Pérez CE. Second-hand smoke exposure – who's at risk? Health Reports (Statistics Canada, Catalogue 82-003) 2004;16(1):9-17.

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