Secondhand smoke and your baby

Secondhand smoke is smoke you breathe in from someone else’s cigarette, cigar or pipe. It contains more than 250 harmful chemicals; at least 69 of these can cause cancer. Being around secondhand smoke can cause serious health problems for your baby.  

About 1 out of every 3 children in the United States lives in a home where someone smokes regularly. The younger the child, the more likely he is to have health problems caused by secondhand smoke.

What health problems can secondhand smoke cause for your baby?

Children exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely than other children to have these conditions:

  • Ear infections, colds, pneumonia, bronchitis, severe asthma and sore throat
  • Headache and dizziness
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach)
  • Low energy
  • Fussiness
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (also called SIDS). This is the unexplained death of a baby younger than 1 year old.

How can you help protect your baby from secondhand smoke?

  • If you or someone in your home smokes, quit. If you need help to quit, tell your health care provider. Or visit smokefree.gov
  • Ask others not to smoke around your baby.
  • Don’t let anyone smoke in your home or your car, especially when your baby is there. Get rid of ashtrays; they may can encourage people to smoke. 
  • Don’t take your baby to places, like restaurants or other people’s homes, where people may be smoking.
  • When choosing a babysitter, make sure she doesn’t smoke. 

What is thirdhand smoke?

Thirdhand smoke is what’s left behind from tobacco and tobacco smoke. It can include lead, arsenic and carbon monoxide. It’s what you smell on things like clothes, furniture, carpet, walls and hair that’s been in or around smoke. It’s why you can tell that someone smokes by the smell of his clothes, home or car. Thirdhand smoke is why opening a window or smoking in another room isn’t enough to protect your baby.

Thirdhand smoke can cause health problems for your baby, including asthma and other breathing problems, learning disorders and cancer.

More information


Last reviewed: September, 2014

Secondhand smoke is smoke you breathe in from someone else’s cigarette, cigar or pipe. It contains more than 250 harmful chemicals; at least 69 of these can cause cancer. Being around secondhand smoke can cause serious health problems for your baby.  

About 1 out of every 3 children in the United States lives in a home where someone smokes regularly. The younger the child, the more likely he is to have health problems caused by secondhand smoke.

What health problems can secondhand smoke cause for your baby?

Children exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely than other children to have these conditions:

  • Ear infections, colds, pneumonia, bronchitis, severe asthma and sore throat
  • Headache and dizziness
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach)
  • Low energy
  • Fussiness
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (also called SIDS). This is the unexplained death of a baby younger than 1 year old.

How can you help protect your baby from secondhand smoke?

  • If you or someone in your home smokes, quit. If you need help to quit, tell your health care provider. Or visit smokefree.gov
  • Ask others not to smoke around your baby.
  • Don’t let anyone smoke in your home or your car, especially when your baby is there. Get rid of ashtrays; they may can encourage people to smoke. 
  • Don’t take your baby to places, like restaurants or other people’s homes, where people may be smoking.
  • When choosing a babysitter, make sure she doesn’t smoke. 

What is thirdhand smoke?

Thirdhand smoke is what’s left behind from tobacco and tobacco smoke. It can include lead, arsenic and carbon monoxide. It’s what you smell on things like clothes, furniture, carpet, walls and hair that’s been in or around smoke. It’s why you can tell that someone smokes by the smell of his clothes, home or car. Thirdhand smoke is why opening a window or smoking in another room isn’t enough to protect your baby.

Thirdhand smoke can cause health problems for your baby, including asthma and other breathing problems, learning disorders and cancer.

More information


Last reviewed: September, 2014