Is secondhand smoke worse for a person's health than smoking?

Smoking and secondhand smoke are bad for health. However, secondhand smoke exposes you to smoke that is unfiltered, which can be just as dangerous as smoking itself. The amount of exposure is related to adverse health outcomes.
Juliet Wilkinson
Oncology Nursing
No. Although exposure to secondhand smoke has proven dangerous to both your lungs and heart, secondhand exposure carries less risk than being the one inhaling the smoke directly into your lungs. Although no-smoking bans cover the majority of the US, you may be exposed to secondhand smoke at outdoor events, concerts or in a bar. Obviously, the more open space between you and the smoke, the better. Furthermore, the smell that clings to people who smoke -- on the cloths, car upholstery, hair and so forth -- although offensive to some, the odor can not harm you.
The rates of death and disease from actively smoking are higher than the rates for people who inhale secondhand smoke.
Irwin Isaacs
According to some studies, second hand smoke can be more harmful.
Robert S. Kaufmann, MD
Internal Medicine

No it is the same thing.  It is not any worse and certainly not any better but you certainly should try to avoid secondhand smoke.

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

No.  Secondhand smoke is about 1/4 less bad than smoking yourself.  That is, when someone else smokes a pack in a room where you are, you get the equivalent of about 1/4 of the disease-causing hydrocarbons in damage that they would get.  This is very common in bars where smoking is allowed.  The barmaid or barkeep get about 1/4 of the damage of the total cigarette smoke that they get exposed to.  Pretty bad, but not as bad as smoking yourself.

Joseph I. Miller Jr., MD
Thoracic Surgery (Cardiothoracic Vascular)
Second smoke is a powerful risk factor for heart disease, stroke and cancer.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.