Belinda from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia asked:

Is second hand smoke less harmful in an open setting?

Is second hand smoke less harmful in an open setting?

I have relatives who smoke while we are all outside. Even though they try to smoke away from myself and my children, I can still smell it. Is this causing harm to me and my children?

Our answer

Children are particularly susceptible to the effects of second-hand tobacco smoke. Exposure to second-hand smoke can increase a child’s risk of: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS or cot death); lower birth-weight babies (where the mother was exposed to second-hand smoke); bronchitis, pneumonia and other lung/airways infections; exacerbating asthma; middle ear disease (otitis media or ‘glue ear’); and respiratory symptoms (e.g. coughing, wheezing). Even in an open setting, children can still be exposed to harmful levels of second-hand smoke carried towards them by air circulation. If cigarette smoke can be smelt then that is a good indicator that children are at risk of exposure. The recommended distance in an open area is at least 10 metres.

This page was last updated on: January 7, 2016
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