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Second hand smoke

Breathing in other people’s smoke can cause cancer. Second-hand smoke can cause other health problems too, including heart disease, stroke and breathing problems.

A non-smoker sitting in a smoke filled room for 8 hours will breathe as many cancer-causing chemicals as if he or she had smoked 36 cigarettes. Tobacco and second hand smoke contain over 4 500 chemicals.

Smoke from the burning end of a cigarette has more poisons than smoke inhaled by the smoker. Some of these poisons include acetone (in paint stripper), naphthalene (in mothballs), butane (in lighter fluid), arsenic (in ant poison), ammonia (in toilet cleaner), phenol (in disinfectant) and carbon monoxide (in exhaust fumes).

Children need to be protected

Second-hand smoke is particularly dangerous to children because their bodies are still developing. Smoking when you are with your children can increase their risk of cot death, ‘glue ear’ (most common form of deafness in children), respiratory illnesses such as asthma, middle ear and chest infections. It may even cause cancer later on in life.

If you are a smoker, do not expose your child to your smoke, especially in confined areas indoors and in cars.

Exposure to second hand smoke and smoking while pregnant are both linked to miscarriage, low birth weight and stillborn births. Babies who breathe in second hand smoke have a higher risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Read more about children and second hand smoke exposure.  Give your children the gift of your being around – your life – for as long as possible. Read more about ‘Life – A parent’s greatest gift to their child’…

Time to Quit

  • Call the National Council Against Smoking QUIT Line: 011-720 3145

Queries CANSA

For more information contact Gerda Strauss, Head of Health Programmes (CANSA) – email: or contact the toll-free line at 0800 22 66 22 or visit

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 072 197 9305 English and Afrikaans (text only)
 071 867 3530 isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sesotho, Setswana and Sepedi (text only)


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1931 - 2021. 90 Year Anniversary

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