Posted on 18 September 2017
Each year about 600,000 people die from exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke (inhaling other people’s cigarette smoke). Once the smoke clears, after a cigarette has been extinguished, nicotine and other harmful chemicals left behind can stick to surfaces and fabrics. This residue is known as third-hand smoke.
The idea of third-hand smoke has been around for a few decades, but came to prominence in 2009 after a study by Jonathan Winickoff, an assistant professor of paediatrics at Harvard Medical School, identified a link between parents’ belief that third-hand smoke may cause harm and the likelihood they would prohibit smoking within their home.
There is growing evidence that third-hand smoke contamination is extensive and can linger for extended periods. Non-smokers can be exposed to third-hand smoke from breathing residual gases, touching surfaces and swallowing dust. Chemical reactions of nicotine stuck to surfaces can lead to an increase in the amount of carcinogenic chemicals over time.