# How serious is the risk of second hand smoke?

I am a non-smoker but enjoy going to a smoke filled casino near me for about 4 hours once a week. I take breaks to go outside for a few minutes throughout.

How much risk (heart disease, lung cancer, etc.) am I at exactly? Is it a negligible amount or more serious. If it is possible to calculate or estimate, how can I do this? A source would be much appreciated.

Additionally, I am considering using a product like:

http://www.amazon.com/WoodyKnows%C2%AE-Pollutant-Second-hand-Anti-Pollution-Replacement/dp/B017EXC47C/ref=sr_1_4_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1459403327&sr=8-4&keywords=nostril+filters

to reduce the risk. Any opinions on this?

• +1, important question. Apr 3, 2016 at 20:35

Unfortunately, you can't make a probabilistic estimate if you will contract heart disease or some form of cancer - there are too many variables to consider. How big is the room? How many people are smoking? Some people smoke all their life and die without cancer or disease - though poor lung function. But I found some interesting information, we can use it to make an estimation:

• It is estimated that only 15% of cigarette smoke gets inhaled by the smoker. The remaining 85% lingers in the air for everyone to breathe.

• If a person spends more than two hours in a room where someone is
smoking, the nonsmoker inhales the equivalent of four cigarettes.

• Secondhand smoke is the third leading preventable cause of disability and early death (after active smoking and alcohol) in the United
States. For every eight smokers who die from smoking, one innocent
bystander dies from secondhand smoke.

Enclosed smoking areas are far more toxic than exposure to second-hand smoke from bystanders outside. Anti-smoking campaigns (rightfully) tend to exaggerate a bit, if there's one person smoking one cigarette, you won't absorb four cigarettes... So my estimate is that within your 4 hours you will absorb 1-5 cigarettes worth of toxins, depending on how many people are smoking, how large the room is, and how well ventilated it is.

A one-time exposure for four hours is definitely statistically negligible, but it sounds like you want to do this regularly. 4 weeks in a month are equivalent to 4-20 cigarettes smoked. In a year that's exposure equivalent to 48-240 cigarettes. Let's say you will not go to the casino three months of the year, and we take the average of that estimate. That puts you in the ballpark of 120 cigarettes a year, or 1/3rd of a cigarette per day. Clinically, smoking is estimated in pack years https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pack-year and this estimate is far below a pack year - there are no studies concerning such a low amount of consumption I could find.

But it still boils down to regular exposure to carcinogens, which one way or another raises your risk. Smokers go through much more tobacco, so studies are hard to find for such a low exposure, but it is definitely significant. If you go to the casino once a month for 4-5 hours you will be fine. But if you're concerned about long-term health I wouldn't go every week. Also gambling can be more addicting than tobacco. ;)

Hope this estimate helps you.

Sources:

• Also worth considering is that unlike the smoke a smoker inhales, the additional smoke lingering in the air is unfiltered smoke. Dec 26, 2021 at 12:57

Maybe this quote from a scientist who did secondhand smoke studies himself is more truthful than the first answer in the thread, which is grossly misleading. Secondhand smoke is highly diluded, by one-thousandth (1:1000) compared to the smoke inhaled directly from the cigarette by a smoker:

"The most careful studies that have evaluated the actual exposure of non-smokers to tobacco smoke in the home, at work, and in other settings indicate that the average exposure of a passively exposed non-smoker is roughly equivalent to smoking about 10 cigarettes PER YEAR.

This is approximately one-thousandth the exposure of the average smoker. These studies were conducted in the 1990s, when smoking restrictions were much more limited than they are today. In view of this level of exposure, it is hardly surprising that even the best epidemiologic studies show a weak, inconsistent, or no risk."

Q: "How much risk (heart disease, lung cancer, etc.) am I at exactly? Is it a negligible amount or more serious. If it is possible to calculate or estimate, how can I do this? A source would be much appreciated."

A: You are at no risk of serious diseases from average exposure to secondhand smoke. According to Roger Jenkins, PhD, retired expert at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Chemical Sciences division, the average non-smoker who lives in a house with indoor smoking, inhales a little less smoke than one-thousandth of the amount of smoke inhaled by the avarage smoker:

"According to Jenkins, the typical smoker inhales 480 milligrams of smoke a day and 32 milligrams of nicotine per day. In a home where smoking is unrestricted, the typical nonsmoker will inhale the equivalent of 0.45 milligrams of smoke particles and 0.028 milligrams of nicotine."

It means that while the average smoker inhales 30 cigarettes a day, 30 days a month = 900 cigarettes a month, the "passive smoker" inhales 0.9 cigarettes or roughly one (1) cigarette per month. And that level of smoke is not going to do you any harm, according to studies in smokers.

• That lubbockonline link has gone dead, and it isn't in archive.org, but I found what appears to be a copy of the article, here: smokescam.com/etsjenkins.htm May 5, 2018 at 23:50