The serious consequences of breathing second hand smoke

The following papers by Woodward and Laugesen were the most quoted in the run-up to the 2003 legislation:

MORBIDITY: How much illness does second hand smoke in New Zealand cause?


(15,000 episodes of childhood asthma, nearly 2,000 hospital admissions annually, nearly 30,000 visits to general practitoners)

MORTALIY: How many deaths does second hand smoke in New Zealand cause?

In Tobacco Control SHSdeaths.pdf (350 deaths a year, 250 a year in future)

Annual estimated deaths from second-hand smoke 2003

Home exposures and work exposures before 2004 ban.

Home and work exposure, of men, women and infants

Since December 2004 when smoking was banned indoors in all workplaces and hospitality venues, almost all remaining second hand smoke exposure is due to exposure at home.

Some 250 deaths a year are due to home exposure. These will continue unless smokers take their smoking outside. Many more will suffer survivable but disabling heart attacks and strokes.


Living in a smoky home increases death risk by 17%

(Evidence from the NZ Census, comparing answers to the Census question on smoking, linked with subsequent cause of death)

Adults who had never smoked and who lived with smokers in the period 1996-9 had a 17% higher mortality (risk of dying) than never smokers living in a smoke-free household, when followed up for four years. (This was after allowing for many socioeconomic and other factors).

- Hill S, Blakely T, Kawachi I, Woodward A. at the Wellington School of Medicine:


In the 1990s when smokers were not told to smoke outside, this increased risk from living with a smoker is mostly due to indoor cigarette smoke.

Copyright Health New Zealand 2005. All rights reserved.