Public Health

The mission of the Butte County Public Health Department (BCPHD) is to protect the public through promoting individual, community, and environmental health. 

Tobacco Education Program: Secondhand Smoke

What is secondhand smoke?

Secondhand smoke is the combination of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette and the smoke breathed out by smokers. Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals. Hundreds are toxic and about 70 can cause cancer

Want to learn more about secondhand smoke in Butte County?

Request a secondhand smoke or tobacco cessation presentation, contact Jen.

(Click to View) Find Smoke Free Housing in Butte County

Secondhand Smoke and Your Health

Health Effects in Children

  • Ear infections
  • More frequent and severe asthma attacks
  • Respiratory symptoms (for example: coughing, sneezing, and shortness of breath)
  • Respiratory infections (bronchitis and pneumonia)

Health Effects in Adults

  • Heart disease- for nonsmokers, breathing in secondhand smoke has immediate harmful effects on the heart and blood vessels.
  • Lung cancer
  • Stroke

Secondhand Smoke and Your Pets

  • Pets who are around secondhand smoke are put at risk for cancer each time a cigarette is lit.
  • Cats exposed to secondhand smoke more than double their risk of lymphoma, the most common cancer of cats.
  • Cats don’t just breathe in secondhand smoke toxins. They also lick them off their fur as they groom themselves, raising their chance of getting oral cancer.
  • Cancer causing chemicals can be found in dogs’ hair and urine months after exposure to tobacco smoke. 
  • Warning signs of cancer in dogs are coughing, weight loss, and fatigue. Nasal cancer can cause swelling, sneezing, and bloody discharge from the nose. 
  • Birds have very sensitive respiratory systems. They are more likely to get pneumonia and lung cancer when they are exposed to tobacco smoke. 
  • Pets can also get very red, watery eyes and skin allergies from cigarette smoke.

Reduce exposure to secondhand smoke

If you smoke:

  • Think seriously about quitting. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or a local support group for help.
  • Never smoke in your home or car, or where children play.

If you aren’t ready to quit, go outside to smoke.

  • Wear a shirt or jacket that you can leave outside after you smoke.
  • Wash your hands right away.
  • Bathe, wash clothes and clean carpets and drapes often.

If you don’t smoke:

  • Don’t allow smoking in your home or car.
  • Make sure childcare workers and babysitters are nonsmokers.
  • If your relatives or friends smoke, ask them to wash their hands and put on smoke-free clothing before holding your baby.
  • Try to keep your children out of the homes of smokers. Meet at a smoke-free place instead.

Until you quit, please dispose of your cigarette butts in a proper container.

Smoke-free housing protects everyone's health

You have the right to breathe smoke-free air where you live and play. In apartments and other multi-unit housing, secondhand smoke can drift from one unit to another. It can come through windows, doorways and vents. Whether you are a resident, building manager or owner, you can take steps to make your building smoke-free.

  • secondhand smoke can cause lung cancer, heart disease and other serious health problems.
  • In children, it may cause infections or bronchitis. It can make asthma worse too.
  • Pregnant women can get sick from this smoke too. The baby may be born premature or with a low birth weight.
  • Smoking is the leading cause of fire deaths. Living in smoke-free housing lowers the risk of fire.
  • View the FAQs about Tobacco Use Within Multi-unit Housing

What can you do if smoke comes into your unit?

If your building has a no-smoking policy:

  • Ask your building manager to make sure the rules are followed/enforced
  • Ask for “No Smoking” signs to be posted where everyone can see them.

If smoking is allowed in your building, you can:

  • Consider talking to the person smoking. Ask politely if he or she would smoke outside away from the building. 
  • Ask your building manager about making your building smoke-free!

Building owners have the right to make their building smoke-free.

Many state and local governments have resources to help owners or managers make their building smoke-free. Units can also be made nonsmoking as they become vacant or when the lease is renewed. 

A smoke free policy can:

  • Protect health
  • Reduce the risk of fire
  • Lower upkeep and cleaning costs
  • Reduce insurance rates

Talk with your neighbors:

  • Ask if smoke is getting into other homes too. Ask if they have health problems made worse by secondhand smoke. 
  • Ask them to help you make where you live smoke-free. 
  • Together, have a meeting with your building owner or manager.
  • The more people who ask for a change, the more likely it will happen. 

What is third-hand smoke?

  • Third-hand smoke refers to the toxins from cigarette smoke that get left on the surfaces of objects, becoming more toxic over time. 
  • Have you ever stood near someone who wasn’t smoking yet still smelled like tobacco smoke? That smell is from third-hand smoke.

Is third-hand smoke harmful?

  • Through third-hand smoke, people can be exposed to the same toxins found in tobacco smoke. 
  • Low levels of toxins can build up to dangerous levels in the body. This can cause learning problems for children. 
  • If you have third-hand smoke on your clothes and then cuddle your baby, your baby can breathe in these toxins. 
  • Babies have tiny lungs and breathe rapidly, so more tobacco toxins get into their bodies. 

Where can third-hand smoke be found?

  • Third-hand smoke gets on clothes, hair, skin, carpets, furniture, toys, car seats, and many other surfaces. 
  • Third-hand smoke can stay on unwashed surfaces for days, weeks and even months. 

> Be patient.

> Making your building smoke-free can take time.

> But it is worth the effort!


View the California’s Statewide Smoke-free Air Laws  brochure.

View the California’s Clean Indoor Air Laws  brochure.



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Butte County Public Health
Phone: 530.552.4000
TTY: 530.538.6588
Fax:        530.538.2165

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Butte County Public Health
202 Mira Loma Drive
Oroville, CA 95965

Office Hours
Monday to Friday
8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Except Holidays

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Public Health Department

202 Mira Loma Drive
Oroville, CA 95965

Report a Health Emergency
24-Hour Line: 530.552.4000

Danette York, MPH, Director
Dr. David Canton, Health Officer

Public Health Leadership Team