Other Factors

Smoking (second- and third-hand)

Tobacco smoke is likely to be the most important indoor pollutant that is harmful for human health, particularly for children. Children are most at risk for serious health problems from tobacco smoke.

A baby or child may be exposed to tobacco smoke at home, daycare, or other environments.

Second-hand smoke is exhaled by the smoker into the air and inhaled by other people in close proximity. There is no safe limit of exposure.

Third-hand smoke is the chemical residue that is left on furniture, carpets, toys, fabrics and dust after a cigarette, cigar or pipe is put out. It has the same toxic chemicals as second-hand smoke and can remain for months or years.

While planning for a pregnancy, as well as during pregnancy, exposure to tobacco smoke can affect the health of the baby and it can also make it difficult for individuals to conceive.

Children are most at risk for health and growth and development concerns when exposed to second- and third-hand smoke due to the following:


  • They breathe faster

  • Their bodies are smaller

  • It’s harder for them to break down the chemicals found in tobacco smoke

  • They cannot remove themselves from smoking environments

  • Babies crawl on the floor and put their hands and objects in their mouths taking in more chemicals than adults


Children who are regularly exposed to second- and third-hand smoke are at risk for the following:


  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

  • Sleep challenges

  • Colic

  • Coughing and/or wheezing more frequently

  • Asthma

  • Bronchitis, ear infections, pneumonia and croup

  • Learning challenges that lead to lower scores in math, reading, and logic

  • Behavioural issues such as hyperactivity

  • Heart disease in adulthood

  • Smoking themselves as a teenager or adult

If a child is experiencing the following, consider this a red flag:

 Regular exposure to second- and/or third-hand tobacco smoke
 Frequent asthma attacks, respiratory and ear infections



Having more general concerns about a child's development?

Having difficulty coping? Need some advice?

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