Smoking impacts the whole family, not just those who smoke. Quitting smoking is the best way to protect your loved ones from its harms.

Learn how to protect your loved ones

Secondhand smoke

The biggest risk to your loved ones from smoking is exposure to secondhand smoke, or “passive smoking”.

When you smoke tobacco, most of the smoke doesn’t go into your lungs, it goes into the air around you. This toxic smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, many of which can seriously impact on health when breathed in.

Impact on children

Children are more vulnerable to the dangers of secondhand smoke. They have small airways and breathe faster meaning their lungs take in more of 4,000 dangerous chemicals, putting them at risk of:

  • Breathing problems
  • Asthma
  • Pneumonia
  • Bronchitis
  • Colds
  • Ear problems
  • Chest infections

Impact on teenagers

Even a small amount of exposure can lead to more hospital visits and health problems for young people.

  • More likely to find exercise difficult
  • More frequent and severe asthma attacks
  • Higher risk of respiratory symptoms, such as shortness of breath and a dry cough at night

Impact on pets

Animals also suffer the ill-effects of inhaling smoke and ingesting smoke particles when grooming.

  • More at risk of certain types of cancer
  • Can cause breathing problems or make existing problems worse
  • Pets also sometimes swallow cigarettes and other tobacco products causing nicotine poisoning which can be fatal

Did you know?

Children exposed to smoking are a lot more likely to take up smoking themselves.

Protecting your loved ones

Most secondhand smoke is invisible, odourless and impossible to control, so no matter how careful you are, people can still breathe in the harmful smoke. The best way to protect your loved ones is to quit smoking, but if you’re not ready yet the advice is to ‘take it right outside’ and smoke far away from the home and others.

Smokefree Homes

The majority of secondhand smoke exposure happens in the home. Creating a smokefree home keeps your loved ones safe.

  • Reduce the health risks to you, your family, friends and pets by stopping them from ingesting secondhand smoke
  • Children exposed to smoking are a lot more likely to take up smoking themselves. A smokefree home sets a great example for them
  • Lower your risk of house fires. Tobacco is designed to stay alight and cigarettes burn at 700°C. Incorrect disposal of cigarettes is the biggest cause of fatal house fires in the UK
  • Save money! Smoking is expensive. On average, most people who quit save around £250 every month
  • Smoking increases anxiety. A smokefree home will likely lead you to feel calmer, more positive and reduce your risk of illness
  • A house free from cigarette smells and stains will make your home a more pleasant place for you to spend time in

Harm reduction measures don’t go far enough. Here’s why

Smoking at the back or with a window open
80% of smoke is invisible and impossible to control, so smoke still drifts indoors.

Smoking while no-one is around
Smoke lingers for up to 3 hours and sticks to furniture, carpets and walls long after smoking has stopped.

Smoking in another room
Smoke particles are smaller than dust, which means they can travel from room to room, even if the doors are closed.

Smoking outside
Even when you smoke outside you still bring smoke back inside with you on your clothes and hair.

How do I make my home smokefree?

  • Remove lighters and ashtrays
  • Encourage visitors to smoke outside
  • Change clothes after cigarettes
  • Think about quitting or switching to e-cigarettes
  • Ask your children to draw you a picture to remind you why you’re staying smokefree
  • Download our commitment card, which includes a space for children to draw their smokefree home, and pin it up somewhere visible like the fridge to motivate you to stay smokefree.

Want to make your home smokefree?

Yorkshire Smokefree Sheffield offers free, friendly and flexible support to help you quit smoking. The service has helped thousands of people to go smokefree in Sheffield through telephone support, face to face sessions*, and our unique online quit program.


0800 612 0011

(free from landlines)


0330 6601 1166

(free from mobiles)