Cigarettes and asthma

Find out why cigarette smoke can trigger your asthma symptoms and how you can avoid it.

Why does tobacco smoke trigger my asthma?

If you smoke or breathe in smoke from someone else’s cigarette, it can irritate your airways. This is because there are toxic chemicals in cigarettes.

If your asthma is triggered by cigarette smoke, you’re at risk of your symptoms getting worse or an asthma attack.

You’re more likely to react to your asthma triggers if your asthma is not well controlled.  Find out more about how to manage your asthma well.

Find out more about why smoking is bad for you

Do e-cigarettes trigger asthma symptoms?

Current research suggests the vapour from e-cigarettes is less harmful than tobacco smoke. This is because e-cigarettes have lower levels of harmful toxins. However, they are not risk-free. More evidence is needed on the long-term risks of vaping and breathing in second-hand vapour.

We do know that vaping can inflammation in the airways. And some people with asthma tell us that vaping, or being exposed to second-hand vapour, triggers their asthma symptoms.

Find out more about vaping and second-hand vapour.

Avoiding second-hand smoke

If you know cigarette smoke or vapour triggers your asthma, there are a few things you can do:

Keep your home smoke-free

Tobacco smoke can take around five hours to clear from a room. It sticks to clothes and soft furnishings. Every time someone smokes another cigarette, they increase the pollution from smoke in the room.

It's a good idea to avoid smoking indoors. If you ask people to smoke outside, make sure they’re far away from the door, so smoke doesn't get blown back indoors.

Do not smoke in a car or any enclosed space

Cigarette smoke in a car is high-risk because it traps chemicals from the cigarette in a small, enclosed space. Even opening a window won't clear the smoke enough. Children are particularly vulnerable to second-hand smoke in cars.

In England, Wales, and Scotland it’s illegal to smoke in a car, or any vehicle, with anyone under 18 in it.

Do not smoke around children

Babies and children are more likely to be harmed by passive smoking because their lungs are not fully developed. Find out more about protecting children’s lungs from smoke.

How to quit smoking

If you smoke, the best thing you can do for your asthma is to quit.  We have lots of useful information about how to quit smoking and how to manage withdrawal symptoms.

Did you find this information useful?

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