Tobacco Smoke

Why am I being warned about potential exposure to tobacco smoke?

  • Tobacco smoke is on the Proposition 65 list because it can cause cancer.
    • Exposure to tobacco smoke can cause leukemia and cancers of the nose, sinuses, oral cavity, larynx, pharynx, throat, lung, esophagus, stomach, breast, pancreas, colorectum, liver, kidney, ureter, bladder, uterus, cervix and ovary. 
  • Tobacco smoke is also on the Proposition 65 list because it can cause birth defects or other reproductive harm
    • Exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy can cause low birth weight, miscarriage, stillbirth and birth defects such as cleft palate.  It can also affect brain development and cause learning and behavior problems for children, and may increase children’s risk for leukemia and liver cancer.  
    • Exposure to tobacco smoke can reduce fertility and cause other types of harm to the male and female reproductive systems.
  • Proposition 65 requires businesses to determine if they must provide a warning about exposures to listed chemicals.

What is tobacco smoke?

  • Tobacco smoke is produced by burning dried tobacco leaves in cigarettes, cigars, pipes, cigarillos, hand-rolled cigarettes (such as bidis), and clove cigarettes (kreteks).
  • Tobacco smoke contains several thousand different compounds.  Many of these compounds cause cancer and/or reproductive harm and are on the Proposition 65 list.  These include acetaldehyde, acrylamide, arsenic, 1,3‑butadiene, benzene, cadmium, carbon monoxide, hexavalent chromium, formaldehyde, lead, mercury, nickel, nicotine, and styrene.

How does exposure to tobacco smoke occur?

There are three ways to be exposed to tobacco smoke:

  • The first is by directly inhaling tobacco smoke from a lit tobacco product.
  • The second is by inhaling environmental or second-hand tobacco smoke.  This is generated when others burn tobacco products or exhale tobacco smoke near you.  This is also called involuntary or passive smoking. 
  • The third is by inhaling, touching or swallowing tobacco smoke particles absorbed by surfaces and materials that have been exposed to smoke, especially indoors.  These include dust, hair, skin, clothing, walls, carpeting, bedding, furniture, and toys.  This is known as third-hand smoke, and can linger after smoking materials are extinguished.
  • During pregnancy, chemicals in tobacco smoke pass from mother to baby.

How can I reduce my exposure and my family’s exposure to tobacco smoke?

  • Do not smoke tobacco.  Avoid breathing air containing tobacco smoke.
  • Do not allow children to smoke tobacco products, or spend time in places where tobacco is being smoked, or has been smoked.
  • If you smoke tobacco, do your best to quit.  In the meantime, do not smoke near other people.  If you must smoke, do so outdoors.
  • Choose smoke-free venues.  In California, workplaces, restaurants, bars and state-regulated gambling venues are smoke-free.
  • Establish smoke-free rules for your home and car.
  • Ask others not to smoke tobacco products near you and your family.

For more information:

General Tobacco Smoke Fact Sheets and Resources

Scientific Information on Tobacco Smoke

Proposition 65

  • California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA)
    Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA)
Posted June 2017

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