Health Risks

Secondhand smoke is exhaled by a person who is smoking. It is also comes from the lit end of tobacco products, like cigarettes and cigars. Secondhand smoke is a dangerous mixture of over 7,000 chemicals, including 70 that cause cancer.1

Secondhand smoke causes early death and disease in both children and adults who do not smoke.2 It increases risk for heart attacks, heart disease and stroke, and lung cancer. For example, it is estimated that secondhand smoke caused nearly 34,000 heart disease deaths each year during 2005–2009 among adult nonsmokers in the United States.1 There is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure.

Dangers to children and infants

Children are particularly vulnerable to the risks of secondhand smoke as they are still growing and may not have control over their surroundings to avoid exposure.2

Children whose parent or guardian smokes in the home or vehicle may be at increased risk for secondhand smoke-related disease and illness, and infants are at a greater risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).2

Protecting People From Secondhand Smoke

Many children and families in Iowa are still exposed to secondhand smoke in homes, cars, and parks. Completely eliminating smoking indoors is the only way to protect people from secondhand smoke.2

Communities can reduce exposure through smoke-free policies.

Local Iowa communities are bringing cleaner, safer air to residents by working with local property managers and to implement smoke-free housing policies.

Smoke Free Homes

The Smoke Free Homes program provides resources, free signage, and technical assistance for implementing and enforcing smoke free policies at rental properties throughout the state. There are currently over 18,000 smoke free units at over 1,300 rental properties in Iowa. 

For more information on how to make your property smoke free or to search for a smoke free property in the Smoke Free Homes Registry visit:

Parents can eliminate smoking in their homes and cars.

Parents can help protect their families from secondhand smoke by eliminating smoking in their home and car, asking people not to smoke around their family and children, or by quitting tobacco altogether.

Learn more about Quitting Tobacco.

Iowa Smokefree Air Act   

What is the Iowa Smokefree Air Act?

In 2008, Iowa lawmakers passed legislation to protect most Iowans from Secondhand Smoke. The Smokefree Air Act prohibits smoking in almost all public places and enclosed areas within places of employment, as well as some outdoor areas. The law applies to: restaurants, bars, outdoor entertainment events and amphitheaters. It also covers places of employment such as office buildings, health care facilities, and child care facilities.

Smoking is allowed on the gaming floor of a licensed casino, as well as designated hotel and motel rooms. For more information on the Smokefree Air Act, visit the webpage.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Smoke-free apartments: smoking inside an individual’s apartment is not a violation of the Smokefree Air Act unless the apartment is part of a long-term care facility.
  • E-cigs: Electronic cigarettes are not covered under Iowa law. Individual owners/managers can prohibit the use of these devices if they so choose.
  • Footage from door: The Iowa Smokefree Air Act does not specify a footage from a door or window that a person must be in order to smoke. The law generally only requires that they are not in an enclosed area. A few outside areas are covered under the law but the law contains no distance requirement.
  • General smoking outside: The law does not specify that a person cannot smoke near a door, window or other entrance to a non-smoking section. There are a couple of specific instances where the ‘smell of smoke’ is prohibited but none of those instances involves a person’s smoke coming from outside to inside a building.

For more information, visit the Smokefree Air Act webpage or call us at 888.944.2247

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  1. United States. Public Health Service. Office of the Surgeon General., The health consequences of smoking--50 years of progress : a report of the surgeon general. 2014, Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Office of the Surgeon General. 2 volumes.
  2. United States. Public Health Service. Office of the Surgeon General., The health consequences of involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke : a report of the Surgeon General. 2006, Rockville, MD: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Office of the Surgeon General. xvii, 709 p