How dangerous is second-hand smoke?

Second-hand tobacco smoke is a major, preventable contributor to acute and chronic adverse health outcomes that affect all Albertans. There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke. Second-hand smoke has more than 50 cancer-causing chemicals and has been identified as a toxic air contaminate and known carcinogen.

People who breathe second-hand smoke are at increased risk for:

  • heart disease
  • lung cancer
  • emphysema
  • acute respiratory problems (like asthma)
  • chest infections
  • excessive coughing
  • throat irritation

Unborn babies are at extra risk for:

  • low birth weight and slow growth
  • decreased blood flow, affecting the heart, lungs, digestive system and central nervous system

Babies and children are at extra risk for:

  • sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • asthma (200 to 400% increased risk if parents smoke)
  • pneumonia
  • bronchitis
  • croup and coughs
  • ear infections
  • problems with cognition (thinking things through)

How can I support residents who want to quit smoking?

Demonstrating support for members and residents who smoke builds goodwill when implementing a smoke-free policy. While the purpose of going smoke-free is primarily to protect your property and residents, there may be people who would like information about quitting, or who will want to cut back on the amount they smoke to make compliance with the policy easier.

There may be an opportunity to partner with a local public health organization to provide cessation resources and services. Contact Alberta Health Services to find out about cessation resources in your community and then post information in common areas. Let all your residents know that there is support available to help them quit or cut back if any of them are interested.

Check out and for local cessation tools and resources.

Where can I find more information about smoke-free housing?

This website is full of information about smoke-free policies, including the benefits of a smoke-free environment and how to go about creating a policy for your building. There are also many tools and resources to help you throughout the process. 

For more detailed information, download our comprehensive guidebook on smoke-free policies for housing cooperatives or contact us to order a print copy.