Take it right outside

Find out the facts about second hand smoke

Take a journey through the home below to discover the facts about second-hand smoke and the harm it can do. You can also find out how you can keep your home smoke-free for the sake of your kids.

It’s invisible

When you smoke indoors, your second-hand smoke lingers in the air. You can’t see or smell it, but it’s there.

Every time you smoke, you breathe out second-hand smoke.

  • The particles are so small 85% of them are invisible and odourless.
  • No amount of second-hand smoke is safe. Smoking at the back door or under the fan will not reduce the harm.
  • Children exposed to second-hand smoke are more at risk of coughs, colds, ear problems, and chest infections.
  • Rather than smoke in the kitchen, could you wait until another time to smoke? When you take the rubbish out?
Take our second-hand smoke quiz

It moves

The harmful chemicals creep from room to room, waiting for your child to breathe them in.

  • Second-hand smoke contains more than 4,000 toxic chemicals. The particles are smaller than dust and drift easily as you move through the house and open doors.
  • Smoking near or leaning out of an open window doesn’t protect your family. Second-hand smoke drifts all through your house. Wherever your child is, they’ll breathe in the harmful chemicals.
  • Children inhale twice as much household dust as adults because they breathe faster. They will breathe more of the toxic chemicals in your second-hand smoke.
Know the facts about second-hand smoke

Is it ever ok for you to smoke indoors?

It lingers

Second-hand smoke lingers for up to 5 hours after your last cigarette.

  • Even if you smoke when they’re at school or out playing, second-hand smoke will still be around, waiting for your kids to breathe it in when they get home.
  • Candles, air fresheners and purifiers might hide the smell of smoke, but they can’t get rid of the harmful toxins.
  • Second-hand smoke can trigger an asthma attack. In children who have asthma already, it can make attacks more severe, and more frequent.
  • Ask someone you trust to watch the kids for 5 minutes while you pop out for a cigarette. You could return the favour.
Find out how to make your home smoke-free

It puts kids at risk

Kids breathe faster than adults.

  • Children are especially vulnerable to the toxins in second-hand smoke because their airways are smaller and they breathe faster.
  • Children of all ages are at risk because their lungs and immune systems aren’t fully developed until they are teenagers.
  • Could you put your shoes and umbrella by the door? And find somewhere comfortable to smoke outside?
Know the facts about second-hand smoke

Kids breathe faster

Because your child breathes faster than you, they’ll breathe more of those harmful chemicals.

  • No matter what you do, if you smoke indoors, the harmful chemicals from your second-hand smoke will hang around for hours doing real harm to your kids and increasing their risk of illness.
  • Don’t let anyone smoke indoors, ask them to go outside, and tell them you’re keeping your home smoke-free for your kids.
  • You can choose whether your child breathes second-hand smoke or clean air.
Know the facts about second-hand smoke

Smoking in cars

Scottish Government smoking in cars TV ad

Since 2016, it’s illegal to smoke in a car with anyone under the age of 18.

Exposure to second-hand smoke in cars involves higher concentrations of health-threatening chemicals than in larger, open areas. Even if the windows are opened or air conditioning is used, harmful particles can remain in the atmosphere long after the visible smoke has disappeared. 

Since 5 December 2016 it is illegal to smoke in a vehicle with anyone under the age of 18. You can be fined for doing for doing so. The maximum fine for this offence is £1,000, but you may be offered the option of a fixed penalty. The fixed penalty will be £100.

Opening a window does not get rid of the harmful chemicals from second-hand smoke. Therefore, no matter if you have the windows open and/or the air conditioning on, if you smoke in a vehicle with someone under the age of 18 you are breaking the law.