The consequences of passive smoking: An overview

J. Shaham, J. Ribak, M. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Tobacco smoke contains a wide range of toxic vapors and particles that when inhaled are injurious to the smoker himself (active smoking) and to those around him (passive smoking). It is extremely difficult to define precisely the harmful effects of passive smoking on the individual's health because of the problems involved in quantifying the extent of exposure. A number of epidemiological studies indicate that exposure to passive smoking in public places is circumstantially but marginally linked to cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, as well as to benign and malignant pulmonary morbidity. There is an increased risk of cardiovascular and lung diseases among people living with spouses who smoke due to the exposure to tobacco smoke in the home. Passive smoking during pregnancy constitutes a health hazard for mother and fetus alike. Exposure to passive smoking during childhood may predispose the individual to benign and malignant pulmonary morbidity in both childhood and adulthood. For many people the worksite comprises the main exposure source. Many clinical conditions are further aggravated by exposure to a combination of tobacco smoke and industrial chemicals, mineral dust, or other carcinogens (asbestos, cadmium, radon daughters). Tobacco smoke exposure and the resultant morbidity can be reduced by regulations and legislation prohibiting smoking in public places and worksites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-28
Number of pages14
JournalPublic Health Reviews
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • passive smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Community and Home Care
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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