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Maintaining Smoke-free Homes

Smoking and vaping is harmful to pregnant women and young children. Quitting is the best thing you can do for you and your family.

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Quitting is beneficial at any age, no matter how long you’ve smoked or vaped. It is especially important if you are pregnant or have children in your household.

Tobacco smoke and vape aerosol contain chemicals that are harmful to pregnant women and young children. There is no risk-free level of secondhand exposure to these products. Also, the e-liquid (or e-juice) used in vapes has proven poisonous to young children.

Tobacco Smoke

Secondhand tobacco smoke contains about 70 cancer-causing chemicals. If you smoke around infants and young children, the risks go up for:

  • SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) - infants are three times more likely to die of SIDS if born into a house with smokers

  • Illness - secondhand smoke can cause ear infections, asthma, pneumonia, and bronchitis

  • Learning problems

If you smoke when pregnant, the risks go up for:

  • Preterm labor - can cause baby to be born early and too small

  • Low birth weight – baby is born less than 5 lbs 8 oz and can have trouble with eating, gaining weight, and fighting off illness

  • Less oxygen – slows growth and harms the heart, lungs, and brain

  • Placenta issues – baby can’t get enough food to grow

  • Birth defects – can include a cleft lip or palate

  • Miscarriage – pregnancy loss before 20 weeks

  • Stillbirth – pregnancy loss after 20 weeks

Vapor or Aerosol

Vaping is on the rise, especially among youth. The U.S. Surgeon General states that while vapes generally emit fewer toxic chemicals than cigarettes, the aerosol that is emitted from these devices is not just water vapor. Most is a mixture of nicotine, tiny particles of heavy metals, and chemicals. Vape aerosol contains ultra fine particles, which settle deeply into the lungs when inhaled by people using it or near it.

Vapes contain e-liquid that comes in thousands of flavors, many of which appeal to kids, like bubblegum and grape. These sweet flavors may tempt kids to drink the e-liquid or put vapes in their mouth. A very small amount of e-juice can be poisonous to young children. In 2019, Poison Control managed nearly 5,000 exposure cases to vape devices.

Quitting Smoking and Vaping

Quitting smoking and vaping is the best thing you can do for yourself and your family. The California Smokers' Helpline has specialized coaching for pregnant women and those with young children. You may qualify for a free, two-week starter kit of nicotine patches sent directly to your home.

Talk to a Quit Coach: call 1-800-662-8887 or chat online.


With the legalization of marijuana in 2016, more Californians are being exposed to secondhand marijuana smoke, which contains many of the same toxic and cancer-causing chemicals as secondhand cigarette smoke. Nonsmokers exposed to marijuana secondhand smoke in a room without ventilation tested positive for THC for up to three hours following exposure, making this particularly troubling when considering the potential impact to children exposed to marijuana smoke.

Find out more about cannabis and your family.

Many people are struggling with the stress and anxiety that has come with COVID-19. And some people believe smoking and vaping helps to relieve this stress and anxiety, exposing their families to more secondhand smoke. Smoking and vaping actually puts stress on your body. And secondhand smoke exposure harms the lungs of those around you. Damaged lungs can lead to more severe symptoms of COVID-19.

First 5 California
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First 5 California
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