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Tobacco Prevention Coalition
Health Department

Secondhand Smoke



The scientific evidence on the health risks associated with exposure to secondhand smoke is clear, convincing, and overwhelming. Secondhand smoke (also referred to as involuntary smoking, environmental tobacco smoke, and passive smoking) is a known cause of lung cancer, heart disease, low birth-weight births, and chronic lung ailments such as bronchitis (particularly in children), as well as other health problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 50,000 Americans die each year from lung cancer and heart disease attributable to secondhand smoke exposure.

In 1993, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report that classified secondhand smoke as a group A carcinogen – a known cause of cancer. 

Released in 2006, The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General documents the serious and deadly health effects of involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke. 

  • Secondhand smoke causes premature death and disease in children and in adults who do not smoke.
  • Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), acute respiratory infections, ear problems, and more severe asthma. Smoking by parents causes respiratory symptoms and slows lung growth in their children.
  • Exposure of adults to secondhand smoke has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and causes coronary heart disease and lung cancer.
  • The scientific evidence indicates that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Many millions of Americans, both children and adults, are still exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes and workplaces despite substantial progress in tobacco control.
  • Eliminating smoking in indoor spaces fully protects nonsmokers from exposure to secondhand smoke. Separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air, and ventilating buildings cannot eliminate exposures of nonsmokers to secondhand smoke.

To view the full report, factsheets, and more click here.


Facts . . .

  • Tobacco smoke has more than 4,700 chemical compounds. At least 50 are known to cause cancer in humans or animals.
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke has been estimated to result in the deaths of about 50,000 adult non-smokers each year in the United States and over one million illnesses in children.
  • There is NO SAFE LEVEL of exposure to a cancer-causing substance.
  • In the workplace, workers exposed to secondhand smoke are 34 percent more likely to get lung cancer. Those who work in smoking-allowed bars and restaurants are 50 percent more likely to get lung cancer than the general public.


Michigan's Smokefree Air Law

On May 1, 2010, Michigan residents and visitors became protected from exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke in all restaurants, bars and businesses (including hotels and motels), thanks to the Dr. Ron Davis Smoke Free Air Law. Michigan is the 38th state to enact such a law.

To view the law, factsheets, and much more, please visit,

For questions, call 1-866-59-SMOKE.


Smokerfree Laws

In recent years a groundswell of support for smoke-free restaurant and bar laws has developed from states and localities across the country. As of January 2010, more than 60 percent of the U.S. population, or more than 190 million people, live in areas that have passed strong smoke-free laws covering restaurants and bars – a figure that has nearly doubled in size in three years. Strong smoke-free restaurant and bar laws are important because:

There is overwhelming scientific evidence that secondhand tobacco smoke is a direct cause of lung cancer, heart disease and lung and bronchial infections.
Smoke-free laws help protect restaurant and bar employees and patrons from the harms of secondhand smoke.
Smoke-free laws help the seven out of every ten smokers who want to quit smoking by providing them with public environments free from any pressure or temptation to smoke.


Restaurant Information

  • Smoke-filled rooms, such as restaurant dining rooms, can have six times the air pollution as a busy highway.
  • Having separate smoking and non-smoking sections does not eliminate the exposure to secondhand smoke. 
  • In cities that have passed smoke-free restaurant ordinances, business has not been hurt. In many cases, it has resulted in more business. Remember, three-fourths of adults in America do not smoke.


Statewide Law Project

The Smoke-Free Environments Law Project (SFELP) at, is a statewide project which provides information, consultation and advice for businesses, local units of government, and individuals in Michigan on policies and practices to protect employees and the general public from the harmful effects of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and to address the legal requirements and liability issues related to ETS.


MI Smokefree Apartment

In July, 2004, SFELP unveiled a multi-faceted smoke-free apartments initiative in Michigan whose purpose is to encourage and assist apartment owners to adopt smoke-free apartment policies in their buildings, as well as to inform tenants of their rights to live in smoke-free apartments and assist them in working with their landlords to obtain smoke-free apartments. The smoke-free apartment initiative utilizes a new web site called to provide a wealth of information for both tenants and landlords. The site also includes a Listing of Smoke-Free Apartments in Michigan