Secondhand smoke contributes to the deaths of 49,000 Americans every year and is responsible for 3,000 lung cancer deaths of U.S. non-smokers annually, making it the third leading cause of preventable death. In Indiana alone, secondhand smoke kills 1,100 Hoosiers every year and is responsible for over 900 low birth weight babies born annually in our state.
Environmental tobacco smoke can also cause bronchitis and pneumonia, wheezing and coughing spells, more inner ear infections, decreased lung function, as well as more frequent and severe asthma attacks. Also, exposure increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Most exposure to secondhand smoke occurs in homes and workplaces. Secondhand smoke exposure also continues to occur in public places such as restaurants, bars, and casinos, as well as multi-unit housing and vehicles.
Eliminating smoking in indoor spaces is the only way to fully protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke exposure.
Below you will find more information on the dangers of second hand smoke, the importance of smoke-free air laws and other helpful resources.
The U.S. Surgeon General released a report on the health consequence of involuntary exposure to secondhand smoke in 2006 concluding that secondhand smoke causes disease and death in children and nonsmoking adults.
The report found a causal relationship between secondhand smoke exposure and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and declares that the home is becoming the predominant location for exposure of children and adults to secondhand smoke.
When a nonsmoker breathes in secondhand smoke, the body begins to metabolize or break down the nicotine that was in the smoke. During this process, a nicotine byproduct called cotinine is created. Exposure to nicotine and secondhand smoke can be measured by testing saliva, urine, or blood for the presence of cotinine.
Breathing secondhand smoke is especially harmful to children’s health for several reasons, including that children are still developing physically, have higher breathing rates than adults, and have little control over their indoor environments.
Children receiving high doses of secondhand smoke, such as those with smoking mothers, run the greatest risk of damaging health effects, including asthma, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), bronchitis and pneumonia and ear infections.
By taking a few basic actions, you can protect your children from secondhand smoke:
- Choose not to smoke in your home and car and do not allow family and visitors to do so. Infants and toddlers are especially vulnerable to the health risks from secondhand smoke.
- Do not allow childcare providers or others who work in your home to smoke.
- Until you can quit, choose to smoke outside. Moving to another room or opening a window is not enough to protect your children.
Smoke-Free Air Laws
Smoke-free laws have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and lung cancer among nonsmokers.
Indiana Smoke-Free Air Law (House Enrolled Act No. 1149) took effect on July 1, 2012. Nearly all public places in the state, including restaurants and other workplaces, are required to be smoke-free. The law also requires that business owners post signage at all public entrances, remove indoor ashtrays and other smoking receptacles, and direct any person who is smoking to extinguish the cigarette, cigar, or other lighted tobacco item.
There are a number of businesses that are exempt from the statewide law; these include bars, taverns, night clubs, casinos, private clubs such as fraternal and veterans’ organizations, and retail tobacco shops. However, towns, cities and counties are free to adopt stronger and more comprehensive laws that include these facilities as well as prohibit electronic cigarettes in public spaces.
Fort Wayne, for example, passed a Smoking Ordinance in 2007 prohibiting smoking inside public buildings and within 20 feet of the entrance of public buildings. This is stronger than the statewide law which only prohibits smoking within 8 feet of business entrances.
The Indiana Alcohol & Tobacco Commission (IATC), in conjunction with local health departments and law enforcement agencies, is primarily charged with enforcing the state smoking law. All complaints regarding violations of Indiana’s smoking ban must be submitted to the IATC.
To report a violation of the state smoking ban, please click here.
For other resources, including printable signs that can be posted in a business, click here.
Indiana Smoking Law
- Indiana Smoke-Free Air Law (House Enrolled Act No. 1149)
- FAQ about Indiana’s Smoke-Free Air Law (ISDH)
For free assistance quitting smoking and other tobacco, please call the Indiana Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit the website.
You can also contact Tobacco Free Allen County for more information on tobacco cessation programs in Allen County.
Tobacco Free Allen County
2200 Randallia Drive
Fort Wayne, IN 46805
Below are links to publications related to secondhand smoke.