Secondhand smoke (SHS) is a mixture of the smoke given off by the burning end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar, and the smoke exhaled from the lungs of smokers. The Surgeon General has documented that adverse health effects of secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure for non-smokers include:
- Sudden infant death syndrome
- Respiratory and ear infections
- More frequent and severe asthma attacks among children
- Coronary heart disease
- Lung cancer
There is no safe level of SHS exposure.
Secondhand aerosol (SHA) comes from Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), such as e-cigarettes and vapes, and is produced when users exhale. While SHA generally contains fewer toxins than SHS, the US Surgeon General has concluded that e-cigarette/vaping aerosol is not harmless. SHA may expose bystanders to harmful substances such as nicotine, heavy metals, ultrafine particulates, volatile organic compounds, and other toxins.
58 million Americans have been exposed to secondhand smoke. Nearly half of those people are children between the ages of 3 and 19. South Carolina data shows that 4 in 10 adults are deprived of the right to breathe clean air free from secondhand smoke and vaping aerosol in public places. 240,000 kids in South Carolina breathe secondhand smoke at home.
Tobacco-Free and Smoke-Free Environments
Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control staff work to build statewide partnerships resulting in initiatives that reduce exposure to SHS and SHA. Tobacco-free and smoke-free settings in South Carolina currently include schools, hospitals, places of worship, worksites, colleges/universities, and recreation facilities. Most comprehensive tobacco-free and smoke-free policies were enacted before the rise in ENDS product popularity and do not specifically prohibit the use of e-cigarettes or vapes. Tobacco-free efforts at SC DHEC include ENDS products and Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control provide education in different settings about the importance of clean air as the standard to protect people from exposure to both secondhand smoke (SHS) and secondhand aerosol (SHA).
Access examples of model tobacco-free and smoke-free policies for various settings.
Smoke-free policies apply to combustible tobacco products ONLY and may allow designated smoking areas, use of ENDS products such as e-cigarettes and vapes, and may provide other exemptions.
Tobacco-free policies prohibit the use of all tobacco, including tobacco-derived products, smokeless tobacco (snuff, chewing tobacco, dip, snus), and ENDS products such as e-cigarettes and vapes. Tobacco-free policies apply to everyone, in all setting locations, at all times (with no exemptions). It does not apply to the use of nicotine replacement therapy products (gum, patch, lozenge, inhaler), which are proven to be safe and effective for helping tobacco users quit.
Cities, Towns, and Counties
As of January 1, 2020, 40% of South Carolinians live in towns, cities, or counties with smoke-free ordinances. Ordinances vary by municipality but generally prohibit the use of combustible tobacco and other tobacco products in public places, businesses (including restaurants), and some outdoor areas such as ballparks, stadiums, parades, or amphitheaters. DHEC monitors smoke-free ordinances while our community partner, SmokeFree SC conducts community education on clean air environments.
County Map: If you're looking to shop, eat or do business in a smoke-free environment, see the this map for information about towns, cities or counties that have adopted local tobacco-free or smoke-free ordinances.
The Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control works to protect children from SHS and SHA exposure through the Clinical Effort Against Secondhand Smoke Exposure (CEASE). CEASE SC engages pediatricians to screen for parental tobacco use when visiting with patients and their families. Participating pediatricians provide cessation help to parents who smoke and help families establish rules for a completely smoke-free home and car.
A Healthier State: State Agencies
The Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control launched the A Healthier State: Make Every Workday Great initiative in 2015 to address SHS and SHA exposure in the workplace at state agencies. Technical assistance and education is provided to state agencies to help enact tobacco-free and smoke-free efforts.
The Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control has developed evidence-based strategies and resources to assist management and administrators interested in making their workplace Smoke-Free or Tobacco-Free.
People living with mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, or substance use issues are more likely to use tobacco and to suffer from tobacco-related health disparities. Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control staff work with residential mental health and substance use treatment facilities across the state to provide tobacco cessation education and resources and provides technical assistance to help facility managers create a smoke-free and tobacco-free setting that meets the unique needs of their residents.
Parks and Recreation
Everyone has the right to breathe clean air, especially when enjoying the outdoors. Outdoor smoke-free laws are typically enacted by elected officials and local boards of health. Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control staff provide education and awareness about the benefits of outdoor clean air protections to communities and organizations interested in smoke-free outdoor settings.
Faith Based Organizations
Since 2010, the Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control has supported the tobacco-free efforts of Hold Out the Lifeline, a non-profit dedicated to faith-based health advocacy. Tobacco-free efforts are promoted through Mothers Eliminating Secondhand Smoke (M.E.S.S.). For more information visit Hold Out the Lifeline.
Secondhand smoke travels through ductwork, hallways, and windows—exposing residents in multi-unit housing to unwanted toxins. In SC, over 206,000 multi-unit housing residents experienced SHS infiltration in their homes in the past year. Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control staff work with private and public multi-unit housing managers to educate and provide resources related to cessation and exposure to SHS/SHA. Click here to access a free guide to implementing smoke-free public housing policy.