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Smoking and Tobacco

Smoking cigarettes

06/02/2004

Question:

What is a safe distance in a measurement of feet or yards to be from someone who is smoking a cigerette?

Answer:

Environmental tobacco smoke or secondhand smoke is a health concern.  It is the combination of 2 types of smoke:  1) sidestream smoke comes off the end of the burning cigarette when someone smokes and 2) mainstream smoke is what the smoker breathes out into the air.  Tobacco smoke contains about 60 cancer producing chemicals, as well as carbon monoxide.  There are cardiovascular and respiratory complications from secondhand smoke exposure.  For example, children exposed to secondhand smoke at home or in the car may experience more respiratory tract infections, middle ear infections or more asthma episodes.

The distance from a smoker is one consideration - but also important are the environment (is this in a small room, a large room, or a home), the number of smokers present, as well as the length of time one is exposed.  When considering the protection of children from secondhand smoke, the goal is to have the home smoke free.  This means no smoking inside the house.  It does not mean smoking in an open doorway or near an open window.  Therefore, a specific recommendation for the number of feet from a smoker that would be "safe" is not possible.  Many factors affect the level of exposure and potential health implications beyond distance from the smoker.   

 

For more information:

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Response by:

Karen L Ahijevych, PhD, RN, FAAN Karen L Ahijevych, PhD, RN, FAAN
Professor Emeritus
College of Public Health
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University