Second-hand smoke (SHS) or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is a serious health risk. It causes cancer and childhood respiratory diseases, increases the risk of heart disease and worsens conditions such as asthma and bronchitis. A 2008 study by the American College of Cardiology suggests that the effects of half-an-hour’s passive smoking last for 24 hours but sustained exposure can lead to heart attacks, strokes and high blood pressure – as well as de-activating repair cells; not only does a person develop blood vessel injury but the cells that help repair this damage are themselves dysfunctional. The study may explain why there is often a drop in heart attack admissions in places which pass smoking bans – see the national evaluation of Scotland’s smoke-free legislation.

For an overview of second-hand smoke see:

ASH Scotland information briefing on child exposure to second-hand smoke in the home
(pdf, 83kb) (updated February 2011)
ASH Scotland information briefing on second-hand smoke in cars
(pdf, 55kb)(updated February 2011)

Search the Health Scotland Knowledge Network to look for more resources on second-hand smoking.