Make your Home and Car Smoke-free: Information for Youth

A guide to protecting your family from second-hand smoke

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of Health, 2015

PRINT Cat.: H149-4/2-2015 ISBN: 978-0-660-03131-6 Pub.: 150107
PDF Cat.: H149-4/2-2015E-PDF ISBN: 978-0-660-03132-3

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Are you concerned that your parents smoke inside your home or family car? This guide is intended to help you get rid of second-hand smoke in your home and car by giving you tips to get your family on-board.

What should I say? Will my parents get upset? I just wish they would stop smoking. Why do they have to smoke around me?

Smoking tobacco is more than just a habit. It's a powerful addiction. Basically, that means it can be really hard to quit. Your parents would probably like to quit, but they may be having a tough time with that.

If your parents are not ready to quit, the best thing you can do is to work together to make your home and family car smoke-free.

Tips to start the Conversation

  • » Be honest and open with your family about how second-hand smoke makes you feel and how important it is to you that your home and car are smoke-free.
  • » Try to choose the right time, focus on the positive and not discuss it in a way that will turn them off.

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Type: Guidelines
Date published: 2015

Stick to the Facts

  • There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke.Footnote 1
  • Second-hand smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals.Footnote 2 More than 70 of these are known to cause, initiate or promote cancer.Footnote 3,Footnote 4
  • The majority of the smoke from a lit cigarette is not inhaled by the smoker, but enters the air around the smoker as second-hand smoke.Footnote 5,Footnote 6
  • The concentration of many cancer-causing and toxic chemicals can be higher in second-hand smoke than in the smoke inhaled by smokers.Footnote 7
  • Smoking in an enclosed space greatly increases the concentration of harmful chemicals produced by second-hand smoke.Footnote 8
  • Exposure to second-hand smoke can cause heart disease and respiratory problems.Footnote 1
  • Children who are exposed to second-hand smoke are more likely to develop asthma or have more frequent and severe asthma attacks.Footnote 1
  • The only way to protect people from second-hand smoke indoors is to fully eliminate indoor smoking. Here is why:
    • Extensive studies have shown that there is no level or type of ventilation that eliminates second-hand smoke.Footnote 1
    • Second-hand smoke spreads from one room to another even if the doors are closed.Footnote 9
    • Harmful toxins from second-hand smoke can cling to materials and can remain long after the cigarette is extinguished.Footnote 10,Footnote 11,Footnote 12,Footnote 13
    • Smoking in another room, opening a window, using a fan, air freshener or filter, or even smoking when non-smokers aren't home or in the car are not effective solutions.Footnote 1

Inspire your Family

  • » Remind your parents of short term benefits of making the family home and car smoke-free:
    • It may decrease their own cigarette consumptionFootnote 14 and increase their chance of quitting smoking successfully.Footnote 14,Footnote 15
    • They may save time, money and energy by not having to do the cleaning as often. The resale value of their home and car will likely be greater.Footnote 16,Footnote 17
  • » Encourage your parents to read the “Make your home and car smoke-free” guide to learn more about second-hand smoke and how to get rid of it in the home and car.
  • » Write a family pledge to go smoke-free, along with the reasons why you are doing so.

You got your Parents On-board? There is even more you can do.

Once your family is ready, make sure everyone entering your home and family car is aware that they are not allowed to smoke indoors anymore. Posting smoke-free signs can help in spreading the word.

Going smoke-free may not happen overnight. Ask for help if you need to. Remember that you are a family and you all must work together to keep everyone healthy and happy.

If you would like to more information on how to make your home and family car smoke-free, or would like to help a family member quit smoking, call 1-866-318-1116 for a copy of Make your home and car smoke-free - A guide to protecting your family from second-hand smoke or On the Road to Quitting, Health Canada's guide to quitting smoking. You can also check out


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