smoking in the home

The home remains the environment where second-hand smoke (SHS) exposure is likely to be the highest, particularly for children. In 2014, 22% of children aged 10-11 reported living in households where at least one parent smoked in the home1.

Position statement

There is a current lack of knowledge on the effect smoking has in the home and the specific health risks for adults, children and pets – particularly in disadvantaged areas across Wales. Our ‘smokefree homes’ campaign aims to raise awareness of the impact that smoking indoors has on children & pets whilst supporting smokers to quit or take smoking outside their home.

Why smokefree homes?

Fire Risk

According to South Wales Fire and Rescue someone dies from a fire caused by a cigarette every 3 days in the UK2. In 2014/15, 163 fires in Welsh homes were caused by smoking materials3.


In the UK around 2 million children are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke in the home. Children are more vulnerable to second-hand smoke than adults. They’re more at risk of coughs, colds, ear problems, chest infections, asthma and poor lung function.


It’s not just children who are affected – animals can get ill too! There’s a direct link between pets such as dogs and cats living in a smoking environment and a higher risk of health problems including some animal cancers, cell damage and weight gain9.

Second-hand Smoke

Exposure to second-hand smoke carries significant health risks, for adults and children alike. Every cigarette contains 4,000 chemicals and at least 50 of these are cancer-causing, even in second-hand smoke.

In 2002 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), convened by the World Health Organization, conducted a review of evidence on second-hand smoke and cancer and found that “the evidence is sufficient to conclude that involuntary smoking is a cause of lung cancer in never smokers”.

The report concludes that exposure to other people’s smoke increases the risk of lung cancer in non-smokers by 20-30% and coronary heart disease by 25-35%4.

The principle source of second-hand smoke exposure among children is in the home. This has been found to increase young infants’ risk of lower respiratory tract infections (including flu, bronchitis and pneumonia) by around 50%5, whilst it is also found to more than double a child’s risk of invasive meningococcal disease, with the greatest risks found for children under five years of age and those whose mothers smoked in the postnatal period6.


In the UK, passive smoking in children accounts for


GP Consultations


Hospital Admissions

£23.3 million

Cost to the NHS

Studies show8

70% of Children

are more likely to start smoking if one parent did.

23,000 of Adolescents

smoke as a result of exposure to household smoking.

80% of cigarette smoke

is invisible and can hang around for four hours.

Get Involved

How can I make my home smokefree?

Looking to make your home smokefree? Need help avoiding second-hand smoke drifting from another home? We offer one-to-one, quick online advice via Facebook. We also have a page filled with advice on how to make your home smokefree.

Housing Associations and Landlords

Download our information pack and guide for housing associations and landlords to help their residents to make their homes smokefree. We work with Registered Social Landlords to help with communications with residents and staff about smokefree homes and on pilot schemes to help reduce smoking prevalence. Contact us for further information.


Further Reading

1Moore, G., Moore, L., Ahmed, N. et al. (2014). Exposure to second-hand smoke in cars and homes, and e-cigarette use among 10-11 year old children in Wales: CHETS Wales 2.

2South Wales Fire and Rescue. “Stay Safe in the Home.” 2013.

3Stats Wales. Accessed April 2016.

4Tobacco smoke and involuntary smoking. IARC Monographs on the evaluation of carcinogenic risks to humans. Vol 83. Lyon, France, 2004.

5ones LL, Hashim A, McKeever T, Cook DG, Britton J, Leonardi-Bee J. (2011). Parental and household smoking and the increased risk of bronchitis, bronchiolitis and other lower respiratory infections in infancy: systematic review and meta-analysis. Respiratory Research. 12: 5.

6Murray RL, Britton J, Leonardi-Bee J. (2012). Second hand smoke exposure and the risk of invasive meningococcal disease in children: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC public health; 12(1): 1-11.

7Royal College of Physicians (2010). Passive smoking and children.

8Leonardi-Bee J, Jere ML, Britton J. (2011). Exposure to parental and sibling smoking and the risk of smoking uptake in childhood and adolescence: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Thorax; 66(10): 847-55.

9University of Glasgow’s Small Animal Hospital. 2015.