Second-hand smoke exposure
Factsheets and Metadata
Second-hand smoke is a major cause of indoor air pollution in New Zealand.
Exposure to second-hand smoke causes illness and premature death in both children and adults [1,2]. Second-hand smoke comes from two places: smoke breathed out by the smoker, and smoke smouldering from the end of the burning cigarette.
Health effects from second-hand smoke
Second-hand smoke can cause poor health, particularly in young children.
In infants and children, second-hand smoke increases the risk of [1,2,3]:
- lower respiratory tract infections
- sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI)
- middle ear infections (otitis media)
- low birth weight.
In non-smoking adults, second-hand smoke increases the risk of:
- ischaemic heart disease
- lung cancer.
Burden of disease from second-hand smoke
An estimated 104 people died from second-hand smoke exposure in New Zealand in 2010 [4,5].
Read more about the health burden due to second-hand smoke exposure.
Information about this data
Exposure to second-hand smoke
Source: Tobacco and Electronic Cigarette Use 2015/16 New Zealand Health Survey, Ministry of Health .
Definition: Exposure to second-hand smoke was asked about in the adult (15+ years) and child (0–14 years) questionnaires of the 2006/07, 2012/13, and 2015/16 New Zealand Health Surveys. The question asked in these surveys was:
- Does anyone smoke inside your house? Yes / No / Don’t know / Refused.
For children aged 0–14 years, a primary caregiver answered the child questionnaire as a proxy for the child. The above questions were reworded to refer to the child. For more information on the New Zealand Health Survey, visit the New Zealand Health Survey website.
Maternal smoking at two weeks postnatal
Source: New Zealand Maternity Clinical Indicators 2019 and 2020, Ministry of Health .
Definition: Mothers who reported that they smoked at two weeks after birth, among all mothers who reported a smoking status at two weeks after birth. Year refers to the year of delivery.
1. US Department of Health and Human Services. 2014. The Health Consequences of Smoking – 50 Years of Progress. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. US Surgeon General. 2006. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke, A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services.
2. US Surgeon General. 2006. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke, A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services.
3. Anderson HR, Cook D. 1997. Passive smoking and sudden infant death syndrome: review of the epidemiological evidence. Thorax, 52, 1003-1009.
4. Mason KM, Borman B. 2016. The burden of disease from second-hand smoke exposure in New Zealand. New Zealand Medical Journal, 129(1432): 16–25.
5. Mason KM. 2016. The Burden of Disease from Second-hand Smoke in New Zealand. Wellington: Environmental Health Indicators Programme, Massey University.
6. Ministry of Health. 2020. Tobacco and electronic cigarette use 2015/16: New Zealand Health Survey.Wellington: Ministry of Health.
7. Ministry of Health. 2022. New Zealand Maternity Clinical Indicators 2019 and 2020. Wellington: Ministry of Health.
Visit the Healthspace website to explore maps about selected indicators about the indoor environment.