Consensus exists that secondhand smoke causes coronary heart disease, lung cancer, and adverse respiratory ailments in children and adults (CDC 2006 SGR Report). Some regulatory agencies have also concluded that secondhand smoke causes breast cancer in younger, primarily pre-menopausal women (Cal-EPA 2005).
The most recent review of research on the adverse health effects of secondhand smoke was published by the U.S. Surgeon General in 2006. Besides cancer, heart disease, and major lung diseases in children and adults, conditions causally associated with exposure to secondhand smoke include:
- low birth weight
- sudden infant death syndrome
- pre-term delivery
- acute lower respiratory tract infections in children, including bronchitis and pneumonia, asthma induction, and exacerbation of asthma in children and adults
- chronic respiratory symptoms in children
- eye and nasal irritation in adults
- middle ear infections in children
Even brief exposures ranging from a few minutes to a few hours can cause heart problems. The conclusions in the California EPA report are very similar to other reviews, including those done by the U.S. EPA, the National Toxicology Program, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. However, the more recent California EPA report also adds the breast cancer finding.