How Far Can Cigarette Smoke Travel Outside

Choir singing and corona: study makes aerosols visible All-clear sounds different

Since the beginning of the pandemic, choral singing has been under suspicion: the risk of infection is said to be particularly high here. In some choirs that were still rehearsing at the beginning of the Corona crisis, downright mass infections occurred. Research into this has been going on for months. And that also in the BR Radio House. Together with members of the BR choir, scientists there have been investigating the spread of aerosols during singing in recent weeks. The first interim results are now available. Image source: BR/Gut zu wissen From the program “Gut zu wissen” (BR Television, July 4, 2020) Safe singing despite Corona Since June 22, choir rehearsals have been permitted again in Bavaria. Of course, only under strict hygiene conditions. These include regular ventilation and a distance of at least two meters between singers. In its recommendations, the Bavarian Ministry of the Arts has already been able to draw on scientific findings. Thus a study of the Federal Armed Forces University in Munich had already shown in May that with singing only in the range of approximately half a meter air turbulences develop. The thesis of the study leader at that time: The infection danger with singing is not substantially larger than with speaking.

Relief and confusion

A result that was as relieving as it was confusing. For on the one hand, the cases of mass infections during choir rehearsals remained unexplained. On the other hand, these findings seemed to contradict the guidelines of the Employer’s Liability Insurance Association, which – even more restrictively than the Bavarian state government – requires distances of up to six meters between singers.

To this end, a distance of at least 6 meters must be maintained in the direction of singing and at least 3 meters to the side.

From the VBG’s guide to action in the area of rehearsals and performances

Singers’ medicine and fluid mechanics

More clarity is now provided by a study conducted by the LMU Munich and the Friedrich Alexander University in Erlangen. In a series of experiments, vocal physician Matthias Echternach and fluid mechanic Stefan Kniesburges have attempted to directly visualize the dispersion of aerosols during singing.

What is an aerosol anyway?

In short: breathing mist with droplets. The long version: Aerosols are tiny droplets of saliva that are smaller than five micrometers. They get into the air when you exhale and can hover there for a certain time. They were supported by singers from the BR Choir. They hope that the results of the study will send a positive signal in the direction of concerts in the near future. Or rather, they hope – like alto Kerstin Rosenfeldt: “Of course I would hope that something good would come out of it, that we would soon be allowed to sing again. But I also realize that when we sing, when we speak, aerosol clouds are created. And I think it’s important that it’s now being studied scientifically.”

Droplets in laser light

In addition to the notorious aerosol clouds, Echternach and Kniesburges also studied the spread of another potential carrier: larger spit droplets such as those produced when speaking. The scattering of these droplets was made visible in laser light and recorded via high-speed camera. This enabled the researchers to analyze which speech or singing passages produced the largest amount of droplets. Kniesburges’ conclusion: “In the case of vowels, we were hardly able to see any droplets that were actually formed and ejected there, sporadically yes, but in a significantly, significantly smaller number in contrast to consonants.”

Smoking for science

To make visible the much smaller particles that make up aerosol clouds, scientists had to resort to another trick: smoking. For a change, in the service of science. A harmless carrier solution from e-cigarettes was used for this purpose. First inhale, then sing, was the instruction given to the singers. The resulting clouds of mist were then measured.

Aerosols spread further than assumed

The aerosol mists spread up to 1.5 meters in the room. The only way to remove them is to air the room! | The result surprised even the researchers: The inhaled gases spread up to one and a half meters in the room. Much further, therefore, than according to the study of the Bundeswehr University, which had measured only the flow velocity of the gases. What also becomes visible: The smoke spreads not only to the front, but also to the sides – although not as far. Matthias Echternach derives from this the recommendation “that towards the front, and with good ventilation, a distance of two meters is necessary. More likely even 2.5 meters. And probably 1.5 meters to the side. If, on the other hand, there is no good ventilation, the room must be very large, for one thing. And also the distances must be greater.”

Sobering conclusion…

The all-clear sounds different. Keeping a distance and ventilation – according to this study, these are also the two most important tools in the fight against corona. Masks, on the other hand, are of only limited help. They stop the spread of the larger droplets, but not the aerosol mist. The aerosol swells out into the open at the edges of the mask. The researchers were also able to observe this. Conclusion: The existing distance rules of the Ministry of Art are certainly not too generous.

…but at least: more clarity

Despite these all in all rather sobering findings – Susanne Vongries, manager of the BR Choir, can also take something positive from the study: “The study gives us more clarity to be able to better assess distance rules and climatic conditions in rooms. And we want to make our findings available to everyone. The results will and should be helpful not only to the BR Choir. There is a great hunger for knowledge and insight in this area among professional concert and opera choirs as well as amateur choirs worldwide.”

Open questions

However, even the new study is unlikely to have completely satisfied this hunger for knowledge. It is merely a piece of the puzzle that will help us to better assess the risk of infection in choral singing. Echternach and Kniesburges concentrate on the spread of aerosols from the mouth into the room. They did not investigate, for example, how much aerosol is formed during singing. Or in what concentrations aerosol clouds accumulate in ventilated and unventilated rooms. Nor is it known to what extent deep breathing while singing increases the probability of infection. So there is still a need for clarification here. Broadcast: Leporello on July 3, 2020 at 4:05 p.m. on BR-KLASSIK.

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  • Choral singing and corona: study makes aerosols visible

Vapor from vapers offers a good, albeit limited, way to visualize the behavior of corona viruses in indoor air. When a vaper emits its vapor, it does not fall to the ground but remains in the air for some time in front of the vaporizer. We can often still detect the smell after the vapor itself is no longer visible. In a poorly ventilated room, the residue can accumulate in the air. Only a small portion will sink to the floor as dust; most will remain in the air until someone opens a window. The situation is similar with coronaviruses, as aerosol researchers have now demonstrated in a number of studies. Except that, unlike vapor from vapers, they remain trapped in FFP2 masks.

Aerosols are smaller than droplets and can remain airborne longer

At the beginning of the pandemic, many medical professionals believed that viruses would be transmitted primarily in small droplets. They were assumed to have a size of at least five micrometers and to behave like small projectiles ejected by an infected person. After a few meters, they should fall to the ground. There, the viruses could linger on surfaces, becoming a source of smear infections when people reach in and then touch their faces, the theory continued. The WHO therefore initially recommended strict handwashing and disinfection of surfaces. Physicists, however, quickly came to a different conclusion. After experiments, they assumed that airborne particles containing infectious viruses are much smaller, less than five micrometers, and that they can remain airborne like dust or fly across rooms and infect unprotected people standing far away. This would explain several observed outbreaks of Covid-19 in which the carrier and infected person were far apart or facing away from each other when infection occurred.

Risk of infection outside lower but still present

At the same time, the experiments of the aerosol researchers show that FFP2 masks can provide good protection because they can filter out relatively large numbers of virus particles from the exhaled air of infected persons. Most important, however, is good mixing of the air to dilute aerosols as quickly as possible. It is therefore recommended that rooms be ventilated regularly if several people are present in them. Outdoors, however, the risk of transmission is much lower because the wind quickly exchanges the air around people. Many aerosol researchers have therefore sharply criticized nighttime curfews for encouraging gatherings indoors. Nevertheless, it is not the case that there is no risk of infection outside at all. If, for example, several people sit close together in relatively windless places and talk without masks, then enough viruses can be transmitted. How great the risk of infection from aerosols is in different situations can now be calculated by any user with the help of a simple calculator on the Internet. Physicists from the German Society for Plant and Reactor Safety have applied models that allow them to calculate the spread of radioactive radiation after an accident to show the spread of corona in different rooms. Here, users can indicate how close they are to another person, whether they are whispering or speaking loudly, whether masks are being worn, and whether the room is a car, a train, a classroom, or an office.

If smoke can be smelled, there is also a risk of infection

To return to the comparison with vapers: If you can smell smoke from a vaper, you can deduce that enough aerosols are getting from that person to the person inhaling, and if in doubt, also transmitting coronavirus.

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Developed by Hendrik Streeck and Aersol experts: RKI warns against superspreading: 8-point check shows when the risk is particularly high The Robert Koch Institute warns of further increasing corona numbers – especially through indoor contacts. In order to better assess how high the risk is in which environment, virologist Hendrik Streeck, together with aerosol researchers and pulmonary physicians, has published the “Air Hygiene” guide. The links marked with a symbol or underlining are affiliate links. If a purchase is made through these links, we receive a commission – without additional costs for you! More info Corona case numbers are on the rise. And will probably continue to do so, most experts agree. Just if to the Corona patients also still another multiplicity of flu ill one comes as for instance of health minister Jens Spahn feared, that could mean renewed, at least selective overloading of the health system. According to information from FOCUS Online, some intensive care physicians expect intensive care units to be occupied by up to 5,000 Corona patients at peak times. The lower the vaccination rate in a federal state, the higher the numbers are expected to be. In its weekly report, the Robert Koch Institute cautions, “With current 7-day incidences, there is an increasing likelihood of infectious contacts. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to take up the offer of vaccination against Covid-19 and to pay attention to a complete vaccination protection in this context.” However, especially with case numbers now rising significantly, the basic risk of infection and one’s own contribution to the spread of Sars-CoV-2 should also be reduced, regardless of vaccination, recovery or testing status. “Therefore, all people should consistently adhere to the AHA+L rules, avoid situations as much as possible, especially indoors, where so-called super-spreading events can occur, reduce non-essential contact, and continue to use the Corona warning app,” the RKI writes.

Even vaccinated people should be cautious

The main factor behind the rising numbers, which the RKI also regularly points out: In autumn and winter, our lives shift indoors, and there the risk of infection is much higher than in summer, when people spend a lot of time outdoors. The virologist Hendrik Streeck together with aerosol researcher Gerhard Scheuch, the pulmonary physicians Thomas Voshaar and Dieter Köhler and the ventilation and building experts Achim Keune and Rüdiger Külpmann recently published a paper called “The Air Hygiene Check: Safe Rooms in a Pandemic.” The paper, which was compiled over many months, compactly summarizes the current state of scientific knowledge and provides concrete information on where people would be exposed to a higher risk of infection.

Experts led by Hendrik Streeck: Ventilation instead of lockdown

The experts emphasize that despite positive developments in respiratory infections due to Corona, one should continue to be vigilant: “This will also affect vaccinated people, not least because the virus is constantly changing. At present, it is still unclear to what extent Sars-CoV-2 vaccinated and yet infected can pass on the virus. Vaccination therefore primarily protects against a severe course and the infections are significantly milder“, according to the scientists. Renewed lockdown measures must be avoided in any case, according to the experts around Streeck. “They have a low benefit, but generate high social and economic collateral damage. Instead, we propose a prevention check for indoor environments that minimizes the risk of infection based on current research“, the experts said in an open letter obtained by FOCUS Online.

Why aerosols are so treacherous

It goes on to say: “Indoor spaces are the central site of infection. There is no relevant risk of contagion at the outdoor air (<0.01% compared to indoor air). The cause is to be found in the vertical flow generated by humans through the warm exhaled air and body heat (up to 100m³/h), which strongly dilutes the exhaled aerosols. Wind flow outside further dilutes the concentration.” Aerosols are tiny air components that are exhaled even when we speak. The aerosol researcher and physicist Gerhard Scheuch has already explained in an interview with FOCUS Online , what this means: “The longer an infectious person is in a room, the stronger the aerosol concentration increases. And it is still there even if the person has long since left the room. If anyone then enters this room, they can become infected. That is the tricky thing: You can get infected without even having met the carrier. In China, for example, 71 people have been infected in this way in an elevator“reports Scheuch. However, the danger only exists if the aerosols can accumulate in sufficient quantities in the room in the first place. According to the experts, their classification of indoor spaces according to infection risk as “very low risk” to “very high risk” is a “practical guide to action for everyday life.”

The score check: when is the risk high and when is it not?

Scheuch and Streeck also explain the topic in an easy-to-understand video (direct link). In a points system (see table), rooms can be divided into different “risk classes.” Depending on the risk factor, up to four points are awarded or deducted. If no CO2 or aerosol concentration measurements are available, then simply 0 points should be entered in the table in each case. The following factors play a role:

  1. Number of people who are currently in an unventilated space or may have been until recently.. “As the number of people increases, so does the likelihood of an infected person being in the room, and the more people in the room, the more can potentially become infected“, according to the experts.
  2. Residence time. “Having an infected person in the room increases the concentration of viruses in the room air over time, and the longer uninfected people stay in the room, the more viruses they inhale“, according to the scientists.
  3. Volume of the room. The larger the room, the lower the concentration of viruses in the room.
  4. Room height. “Due to the vertical flow generated by humans, high rooms are particularly safe because the exhaled virus-containing aerosols move upward“, the paper states. This means that in high spaces – such as supermarkets, gymnasiums, etc. – the risk is many times lower than in, say, a cramped pub.
  5. Effectiveness of ventilation. The amount of fresh air supplied to the room dilutes the aerosols. “With window ventilation, this depends in particular on the temperature difference inside/outside and the wind movement. The greater the temperature difference, the greater the effect. However, the energy consumption then also increases due to cooling“, say the experts.
  6. Effectiveness of indoor air purification devices.
  7. Durability and effectiveness of masks, which are worn by people in the room. “Protective shields are ineffective because they do not prevent the infectious aerosols from spreading in the room“, the scientists emphasize.
  8. Breathing frequency and depth of breathing of infected and non-infected persons in the room.. “Increased ventilation occurs, for example, during physical work, sports and singing“, according to the scientists.

Further products on

2G rule in the supermarket?

If one regards the point system, it becomes clear that a “2G rule” as at present in Hessen – the retail trade may refuse unvaccinated the admission – at most in small business with close customer contact from scientific view would make sense. In a supermarket, on the other hand (better ventilation, high and large rooms, low dwell time) or large halls, the risk of infection is low. The “super gau” for infections are narrow, poorly ventilated pubs or discotheques with many people who also talk or sing loudly. As has already been shown in practice, corona outbreaks have occurred in such venues even at events where the 2G or 3G rule applied.

Caution in toilets, elevators, buses and trains

Essentially, the results of the “Air Hygiene Check” correspond to the information provided by the RKI in an overview of the risk of infection. As measures for risk minimization, the experts around virologist Streeck suggest:

  • Limiting the number of people in a room
  • Limiting the time people spend in a room
  • Prioritizing the use of large and high-ceilinged rooms (e.g., many gymnasiums, auditoriums – these would usually not need any additional special protective measures)
  • Increase of fresh air supply
  • Use of effective room air purification devices

Small rooms with little or no ventilation (small offices and recreation rooms, elevators, restrooms, motor vehicles, public transportation, etc.) are particularly unfavorable. Here, a concentrated infectious aerosol cloud can remain in the air for a long time (similar to cigarette smoke) and then infect people who enter the room (e.g. cleaning staff). Sometimes the virus spreader and infected person have never met each other” according to the scientists. (Direct link to the video “Air Hygiene Check”) Some images are still loading. Please close the print preview and try again shortly.

Passive smoking – half as bad or a fire hazard?

No table free in the non-smoking area of your favorite bar? “Oh, that’s not so bad, let’s sit in the smoking area today for a change.” Everyone has probably experienced situations of this kind at some time or another – and been tempted to smoke passively, either intentionally or unintentionally. Is passive inhalation of cigarette smoke really as harmless as is often assumed? By no means – more than 600,000 people die worldwide as a result of passive smoking! But what makes the invisible fog so dangerous? by Janine Mast

What is secondhand smoke?

Secondhand smoke refers to the involuntary inhalation of tobacco smoke from the surrounding air. This tobacco smoke consists to a large extent of about 85% of so-called sidestream smoke, the remaining 15% represents the mainstream smoke. The mainstream smoke is the exhaled smoke of the active smoker through the puff on the cigarette. The sidestream smoke is produced by the glowing of the cigarette during the time when it is not being pulled. Active smoking means taking a drag on the cigarette yourself; passive smoking means inhaling the tobacco smoke from the air that an active smoker is responsible for.

Did you know that…

  • … if you sit in a smoke-filled room for an hour, you inhale as much toxin per hour as if you smoked a cigarette yourself.

Once you think about it, we are exposed to passive cigarette smoke much more often than we sometimes realize. How often do we pass a group of smokers standing outside a restaurant or waiting at a bus stop? Non-smokers passively smoke along. 34% of nonsmokers and 22% of female nonsmokers come into contact with toxic cigarette smoke at least once a week. In the workplace, most nonsmokers are still forcibly exposed to tobacco smoke, especially men at nearly 20%. In pubs, bars and discos second most frequently the passive smoke is spread. But passive smoking is also collectively prevalent among friends and acquaintances: about 12% of men and 10% of women are exposed to it. Although there has been a decrease in tobacco smoke exposure in recent years due to legal protection of non-smokers, the number of involuntary passive smokers is still alarmingly high. It is often assumed that secondhand smoke is not harmful. However, the tobacco smoke inhaled during secondhand smoke is no different from the smoke inhaled by the active smoker. Secondhand smoke contains the same myriad of toxic and carcinogenic substances that are involuntarily inhaled, such as:

  • Hydrogen cyanide
  • Ammonia
  • Nitrosamines
  • Benzene
  • arsenic, cadmium, chromium
  • radioactive isotope polonium-210

Secondhand smoke is harmful because these substances can cause serious diseases. It is interesting to note that although sidestream and mainstream smoke contain the same toxic substances, some of them are contained in significantly higher concentrations in sidestream smoke. For example, carcinogenic substances are sometimes present in concentrations up to 100 times higher than in the main stream. Therefore, passive smoking is also very dangerous compared to active smoking. The consequences of passive smoking are therefore serious illnesses such as cancer and even death, as is also the case with active smokers.

How dangerous is passive smoking really?

How bad is passive smoking really? Here, the figures from a study by the German Cancer Research Center speak for themselves. This is how many people die each year in Germany alone from diseases triggered by passive smoking:

Persons who died / year

Passive smoke-related disease

2.000 Heart disease
770 Stroke
260 Lung cancer
50 chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
60 infants due to passive smoking in the home and prenatal exposure to pollutants because the mother smoked during pregnancy.

In Germany alone, more than 3,300 non-smokers thus die as a result of passive smoking. Whether it’s cancer or heart disease, these numbers clearly show how dangerous and bad secondhand smoke really is. The risk of cancer is increased by 20 – 30% in regular passive smoking compared to non-smokers. Cigarette smoke is indisputably harmful, whether it is actively or passively ingested.

What are the consequences of passive smoking?

Passive smoking has a wide variety of health consequences. There are immediate, acute consequences and more long-term consequences. Perhaps you have noticed yourself that you have a headache after a visit with friends in a smoking bar? Passive smoke irritates your eyes, nasal mucosa and respiratory tract, which can lead to shortness of breath, coughing, increased susceptibility to infections and also headaches and dizziness. In addition to these acute complaints, passive smoking has serious consequences. Consequences of passive smoking in adults Since passive smoke is inhaled directly into the lungs, it is not surprising that passive smoking increases the risk of lung cancer. Most likely, passive smoke inhalation also increases the risk of developing breast cancer in young women. Passive smoking promotes the development of respiratory diseases and worsens existing respiratory diseases. The risk of nasal cavity and sinus cancer is also very likely to be increased in passive smokers. However, secondhand smoke not only affects the lungs and respiratory tract and promotes cancer. Passive smoking also damages the cardiovascular system and promotes atherosclerosis, for example. Thus, the risk of stroke increases by about 20-30% due to passive smoking. Just as active smokers are more susceptible to infections, passive smoking also increases susceptibility to infections. The consequences of passive smoking are therefore very different and can affect the whole body. Serious health damage from secondhand smoke is possible.

Passive smoking during pregnancy?

Active smoking by the mother during pregnancy can have countless negative consequences for the unborn baby. The toxins, such as nicotine, also reach the unborn baby through the bloodstream and impair the supply of oxygen and nutrients. Various studies have shown that children born to smokers are born with a lower birth weight, size and head circumference than children born to non-smokers. In addition to reduced growth, smoking during pregnancy can trigger severe maldevelopment and cause disease. Examples include

  • reduced lung function
  • an increased risk of malformations such as cleft palate
  • behavioral and concentration disorders
  • increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome
  • Serious pregnancy complications
  • Miscarriages and stillbirths occur significantly more often in pregnant women who smoke than in non-smokers.

There are sufficient studies to prove that active smoking by pregnant women harms the unborn child. But what about passive smoking during pregnancy? What if your partner smokes and can’t get off nicotine? Secondhand smoke contains the same toxic and carcinogenic substances as inhaled smoke from an active smoker. A study by the University of Nottingham evaluated a total of 19 studies that looked at the dangers of secondhand smoke for unborn children. The study participants were non-smokers who were exposed to their partner’s tobacco smoke at home. The results of the study were clear: secondhand smoke also harms the unborn child. When pregnant women are exposed to secondhand smoke, the risk of stillbirth increases by 23% and the likelihood of birth defects increases by 13%. It is therefore not only important that you do not smoke yourself, but also that your partner should stop smoking during your pregnancy. Consequences of secondhand smoke for pregnancy, infants and children

How harmful is secondhand smoke for babies and children?

Babies and children are helplessly exposed to the smoke of their smoking parents. They are forced to smoke passively. Passive smoke is particularly dangerous for children, as they have a higher respiratory rate and therefore inhale more smoke. In addition, they do not yet have such an efficient detoxification system as adults have. Thus, children exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to suffer from middle ear infections and respiratory diseases such as bronchitis and pneumonia. A serious consequence of secondhand smoke in children can be the development of asthma. If the child has an existing asthma condition, secondhand smoke worsens the symptoms. The numbers of how many children are affected by secondhand smoke exposure are alarming.

Did you know that…?

  • … 43% of children and adolescents up to the age of 17 have at least one parent who smokes, and 15% have both parents who smoke?
  • … 33% of non-smoking girls and 32% of non-smoking boys aged 11 to 17 with at least one smoking parent spend several times a week or every day in rooms where people smoke.

Children and adolescents are not only exposed to cigarette smoke in the home. Only two-thirds of smokers with minor children completely ban smoking in cars.

When does passive smoking become harmful?

Perhaps you are now asking yourself, at what point is passive smoking harmful? Once passive smoking, when you sit with friends in the smoking section of the restaurant on the weekend, is not so bad? The German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) takes a very clear position on this: there is no safe or harmless dose for passive smoking. Even if you are only exposed to secondhand smoke for a short time and to a small amount, the carcinogenic substances in the smoke you breathe can contribute to the development of tumors. Cancer from passive smoking can therefore not be ruled out. There is also no all-clear in the case of the neurotoxin nicotine: nicotine can also promote harmful deposits in your blood vessels through passive smoking. But of course the risk of disease increases the longer and more intensively you are exposed to toxic and carcinogenic tobacco smoke.

Will you become addicted to secondhand smoke?

Sure, there are definitely health consequences from secondhand smoke. But can you also become addicted to secondhand smoke? Unfortunately, this question has not yet been sufficiently researched and the length of studies is thin. In animal experiments, however, it was found that passively consumed nicotine can also lead to addiction. So it cannot be ruled out that passive smoking is also addictive.

Passive smoking, asthma and COPD – is there a connection?

Various studies have already shown that passive smoking increases the risk of asthma, aggravates symptoms and makes it more difficult to treat the disease with medication. A large meta-analysis including 25 studies involving more than 450,000 children showed that secondhand smoke is also associated with an increased number of severe asthma attacks requiring treatment. Therefore, as a parent of children with asthma disease, be sure to stop smoking. Studies have also clearly demonstrated the connection with passive smoking for COPD – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. For example, non-smokers who live with a smoking partner have a 25% higher risk of dying from COPD than non-passive smokers. A study with data from over 70,000 never smokers also showed that adults who were exposed to secondhand smoke for several years as children but never smoked themselves were more likely to die from COPD. This shows how harmful secondhand smoke is, especially in childhood. Passive smoking increases the risk of asthma diseases

How dangerous is secondhand smoke with e-cigarettes, tobacco heaters & co?

Whether e-cigarettes are harmful can now be answered with a resounding “yes”. But what about passive smoking? Vaporizing an e-cigarette does not produce tobacco smoke, but it does release an aersol into the air that is also similar to a chemical cocktail. So far, there have been few studies on how harmful secondhand smoke or passive vapor actually is. A study from Florida showed that secondhand smoke causes more asthma attacks in children and adolescents. In addition, the group of children and adolescents exposed to secondhand smoke from e-cigarettes experienced more acute exacerbations of asthma than the comparison group. However, much research is still needed before a conclusive statement can be made. Long-term studies in particular are still lacking here. The same applies to so-called tobacco heaters. Even if the smoke from tobacco heaters contains fewer harmful substances than regular cigarettes, this does not automatically mean that it is harmless or harmless. It can be assumed that the ingestion of secondhand smoke is also not harmless to health. Unfortunately, there are still no conclusive studies on this.

What to do about secondhand smoke?

Now you know all the dangers and possible consequences of secondhand smoke. You want to avoid secondhand smoke in the future? Especially in closed rooms the smoke is dangerous because it spreads quickly and stays in the whole room. Therefore, smoking in the car is also considered particularly dangerous for fellow passengers. High concentrations of pollutants are accumulated very quickly. It is also important to know that ventilation alone is not enough. Whether in the apartment or in the car – the pollutants, settle in carpets, curtains, furniture, walls and in the car in the seats and Co. By the way, smoking outside the door is not enough. The smoke settles in your smoking clothes, in your hair and even on your hands, and so the toxic pollutants still get into the apartment and ultimately to your loved ones. Even though non-smoker protection laws mean that smoking is no longer allowed in most enclosed spaces such as restaurants, you are still exposed to secondhand smoke. Smokers now stand in front of the bar, in marked zones on the platform or, for example, in the beer garden. Because smoking is still allowed in the beer garden. You ingest toxic secondhand smoke when you walk past them or sit at the neighboring table. Passive smoking outside is also not harmless, even if the concentration of harmful substances is not as high as indoors. Passive smoking outdoors can also have consequences.

Our tips against secondhand smoke:

  • Does your partner smoke? Then talk to him and agree on clear rules. The apartment and the car should be smoke-free zones in any case. Of course, it is always best to stop smoking completely, but you cannot force this on your partner.
  • Get out of the way of smoke. If you are standing at the bus stop, you can usually walk a few meters away without any problems so that you don’t get the smoke directly.
  • Talk to the people! You are in the beer garden and can not move? Ask the smoker if he can’t stop. Especially if you are pregnant, you will often meet with understanding.
  • Do your friends smoke? You don’t necessarily have to join them in the smoking circle. You can spend these 5 minutes talking to the others at the table or otherwise occupying yourself. If necessary, go to the bathroom, even if it’s just to freshen up.
  • Avoid closed rooms where smoking is allowed. If there is only room in the smoking area of the restaurant or bar, move on to the next location. You can avoid pure smoking bars from the start.


There is no limit below which inhaling passive smoke is harmless – even low concentrations in the air you breathe can cause considerable damage to your health. Not only non-smokers but also active smokers should be aware of this danger and the responsibility it entails. As a smoker, you are not only endangering your own health, but also that of your loved ones. Quitting smoking is worth it! Professional non-smoking programs such as can help you to free yourself from your nicotine addiction. Health insurance companies even cover the costs up to 100% for certified non-smoking courses. You help not only your environment, but also yourself.

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Nathalie B. 02/26/2020 I used to smoke myself, but now I find cigarette smoke quite disgusting! Too bad it never bothered me before… but better late than never 🙂 Oli 03/06/2020 I am a smoker myself and I don’t smoke in my home or in my car. Outside, however, I smoke quite normally, there can take distance, who wants… Team 03/06/2020 That you don’t smoke in your car or in your apartment is very good. But it would also be respectful of you to smoke only when it does not bother the people around you. Sometimes it is not so easy to move away from the smoke. Oli 03/06/2020 Yeah, it is. I mean, when I’m just walking around outside or standing. There I can’t be considerate of every single pedestrian… but otherwise it’s good to keep your distance yourself, of course. Of course I understand that the smoke is disgusting for non-smokers and I don’t want to harm anyone! I already take into consideration! Jutta 10.03.2020 Even such small amounts of smoke can make a difference? I would not have thought that :O Henry 02/06/2021 I used to smoke regularly, but managed to reduce it to occasional consumption over time. Today I really only smoke when I visit relatives who smoke, and only for the reason that I figure it doesn’t matter if I’m there actively or passively smoking anyway. Is that so? I would be more likely to quit altogether if I knew that occasional passive smoking was less harmful than occasional both. Would appreciate any info here. Greetings Henry Non-SmokingHeroes Team 08.02.2021 Of course it does not matter at all whether you smoke passively or light up a cigarette directly yourself. Try to keep some distance and open the window to ventilate well, so that the concentration drops a bit. Ann 09/10/2021 How can you teach others that smoking at home is harmful to the whole family? We live five (my husband, myself and our three children 9, 8 and 3 years old). My husband only smokes at home (even at dinner) and won’t smoke outside. Children and I are constantly sick. Our apartment totally smells like tobacco. The walls are yellow from nicotine. We have no fresh air even with open windows. But my husband doesn’t want to change anything at all and continues to smoke. Non-SmokingHeroes Team 09/14/2021 Dear Ann, This sounds like a very unfortunate situation. If you have already received damage from passive smoking, it is absolutely necessary to react quickly. We would advise you to visit a doctor or other experts together with your husband and your children and have all of you examined. Maybe the visit to the doctor can open your husband’s eyes. We hope that your situation will improve soon. Munich 11/22/2021 Hello dear Non-SmokingHeroes team, first of all thank you for the interesting article. But what I would still be interested in (since I am affected myself): How dangerous is actually the smoke from the neighbor’s balcony, if there are about 2-3 meters between me and the smoker? I can’t find any valid statements on this topic, as most articles refer to secondhand smoke indoors. Thank you very much for your comment & best regards from Munich! Non-SmokingHeroes Team 11/30/2021 It is difficult to estimate how dangerous secondhand smoke is over 2-3 meters outdoors, since that always depends on the wind and the duration of smoke exposure. But it is understandable that the smoke bothers you as a non-smoker. Probably the best thing to do is to talk to your neighbor first. Maybe he will be reasonable and you can find a solution to reduce your exposure to smoke. Good luck! Anti smoker 08/22/2022 Unfortunately, there is only one thing you can do to avoid secondhand smoke, and that is to actively resist. Unfortunately, EVERYONE smokes these days, and there’s nowhere to get away from it outside (except in a nature preserve). Non-SmokingHeroes Team 08/25/2022 Yes that’s true. You are exposed to secondhand smoke everywhere unfortunately. Vanessa 08/26/2022 How many meters away should you be from smokers and can smoke stick to clothes and hair as you walk by. Non-SmokingHeroes Team 08/31/2022 When avoiding secondhand smoke, it’s the amount that matters most. For example, you get a lot of pollutants when you sit in a smoker’s bar. If someone walks by with a cigarette while waiting at the bus stop, the pollutants you get off are in the manageable range. When waiting next to smokers, you can keep enough distance so that you don’t smell the smoke or that it moves in the other direction. How Far Can Cigarette Smoke Travel Outside.

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