Secondhand Smoke Story Board

Welcome! Thank you for visiting the Secondhand Smoke Story Board. This page is dedicated to the more than 50,000 people who die every year in the United States as a result of secondhand smoke exposure. We have designed this page as a space to share your personal stories, concerns, thoughts and ideas. Please take a moment to read a few stories from our members and friends around the United States. Then, please consider submitting a story or comment of your own.

  • Have you been personally impacted by secondhand smoke?
  • Have you lost a loved one to a secondhand smoke related illness?
  • Are you simply sick and tired of the fact that people are still being exposed to secondhand smoke in your community?
  • Or perhaps your city is smokefree? Tell us how much you enjoy breathing smokefree air in public places?
  • Do you work in a smokefree environment?

We invite you to submit your story and tell us why smokefree air matters to you. We publish many of these stories on this page.

You are not alone...
I urge the people how have the power to consider those of us who second-hand smoke hurts. We love to participate in activities where smoking has not been banned, but are not able to do so. We are sick for days after such exposure, and don't want to take the chance that we will be exposed to the diseases that are attributed to enhaling second-hand smoke.

There are some states that have seen the light and some that refuse to consider the consequences. I wish that every state would have the courage to ban smoking in public places. Since it has been proven to be detrimental to ones health, why, oh why can't something be done to stop it?

Shan & Barbara P. (Spartanburg, SC)

Well I live in Concord California. I am married and have a 21-month old son. Our downstairs neighbor and back neighbor and the neighbor across the hall all smoke. Every time one of them smokes the smell fills my apartment. Most days we have to leave all the windows and doors closed or the house smells like we ourselves are smoking. I gave up smoking in 2004 when my wife and I decided to have a baby because we wanted to have a clean air environment for our son and to be good rule models. The down side to living in California is the that houses are over priced so a large number of people us included are stuck living in
apartments and have no control over what floats into to your home from the whims of your neighbor. I wish the state would pass a ban statewide on smoking in communal living environments like apartments the same way they did about people parking their cars/trucks with the exhaust facing apartments because of the concerns with carcinogens.

Michael M. (Concord, CA)

I am an elementary school nurse in a low income area. One of my students just had surgery to clean up the massive middle ear infection that 'ate away' most of his middle ear structures. He will need further surgery to rebuild his middle ear. Both of his parents smoke in the home and in the car. I spoke with the parent citing the connection between middle ear infections and secondhand smoke and encouraged him and his wife to smoke outside. He told me to mind my own business and don't tell him
how to raise his kids.

Another parent thanked another school nurse for giving her child a pair of shoes that fit. This parent said, I just don't have money for the little things like shoes for a growing boy because I have to buy cigarettes!!!!

What I am hearing is parents are putting their addictions before the health and comfort of their children. This is absurd. Secondhand is a Class A carcinogen. Kids exposed to secondhand smoke before the age of 10 are more likely to develop leukemia and lymphoma.

We have laws that protect minors from physical abuse, but isn't secondhand smoke physical abuse?? I am not asking parents to stop smoking just take it outside away from childrens' developing bodies.

Thanks for the opportunity to vent.

Karol (Indianapolis, IN)

Hi! My name is Porsche Kristina and I'm a sophomore at Middle
Tennessee State University. I'm SICK AND TIRED of having to walk
through clouds of smoke to get to my classes, so I gathered my friends together and we are in the process of creating a group on campus to not only encourage and help students/faculty to quit smoking, but to pass legislation that would make my campus SMOKE-FREE! Any suggestions, materials, advice, contacts, ANYTHING would be greatly appreciated! Thanks for your time and all your hard work to make America a HEALTHIER place!

Porsche (Murfreesboro, TN)

I was standing in line at the Cheesecake Factory Restaurant with my girlfriend getting a slice of cheesecake. The line was long and slow, which didn't bother me. What did bother me was the smoke drifting over from the bar section. It was so nauseating that I couldn't wait to get out of there! I felt bad for the employee in that section because the ventilation drew the smoke right over to them.

Joe (Raleigh, NC)

In my town the only non-smoking restaurant is Arby's but then again I never eat there so I'm not sure if that is true. If I want to go out to eat without having an asthma attack I have to drive 30 minutes or more and even then my choices are limited. In North Carolina there are no smoking bans in restaurants, after all their biggest money maker is tobacco. There is even a tobacco farm down the street from me. I hate being limited because I can't breathe tobacco smoke without a lot of pain and discomfort. I'm just glad we are moving soon, then maybe I can go out for a quick bite to eat for once.

Candace (Pikeville, NC)

My biggest gripe is when I have to walk thru a maze of cigarette smoke to enter a grocery store, pharmacy and or Asthma Walk, yup, Asthma walk of which I participated in yesterday, and all of a sudden I smelled Cig.smoke......everyone turned, it seems a worker had lit a cigarette and soon extinguished it, butwhat about when we have to walk into a grocery store? I carry a dust mask and or a handkerchief to ward off the chemicals, this is not right ! We need to do something to clean up the air! Thanks for listening. My Dad, my sister and my brother all died from cancer, I myself and struggling with COPD, Emphysema, Asthma and Bronchitis....

Sandy (Lehigh Acres, FL)

I am a member of a federally recognized tribe. Historically Native Americans used tobacco in a sacred and spiritual ways. It is/was a sacred gift given to the people as a way to communicate with the Creator. Since colonization using tobacco has taken on a different meaning. It is abused, no longer used to communicate with spirits, it is to satisfy addiction.
People are in denial saying that they are using to pray. To me that is a joke. Because of their addiction i CAN NOT BREATHE. I can not take my children to ceremonies because the building is so filled with smoke that it's blue. You stay for five minutes and your clothes and hair reek of cigarettes. My workplace is smoke-filled. Fellow employee routinely light up in the other room but it still smells through-out the building. At this moment people are smoking. What about my rights? We are supposed to be examples. What gives them the right to poison the air I breathe? I protect my children, but how can I when someone thinks that they can poison them without even thinking.. WHY? Why must the children suffer? If we are supposed to protect them why poison their air?

Jessica (Chip strip, NU)

I was 5 years old when my Daddy died of cancer of the nasal cavity- a smokers cancer. He was 41 years old and left behind a young wife and 4 little girls ages 3-11. He had never touched tobacco! He did, however, work in a government office (late 60's to early 70s), a place where "everyone else smoked", according to my mother. I call it murder...

Thank you for letting me get my story out there. My hope is that somehow, we will ensure that other little girls and boys get to keep their Daddies and Mommies.

Thank you,
Susie (Oregon)

On 26 December 2003 my dad passed away due to a 13 year battle with COPD/Emphysema. My dad had smoked since he had been a young boy, but quit immediately when he was diagnosed with COPD. Unfortunately it was too late and his lungs were already damaged. I grew up breathing in secondhand smoke, but at the time, there was not information out discussing the dangers of secondhand smoke.

After my dad passed away, I became very involved in lung disease and smokefree living. I am involved in many lung disease and quit smoking websites and also the American Lung Association. I launched my own website in June 2006 on Fathers Day In Memory of My Dad ( I am now an Advocate for Lung Disease Awareness and Smokefree Living. I work in a government installation where there is clean air indoors. Smoking is only allowed outside, 50 ft. from the doors.

I am happy to see cities and states going totally smokefree in restaurants, bars etc. Also, now cars with children inside also becoming smokefree. Again, as I grew up, my dad smoked in our car with the windows up and the air conditioner on. So, we inhaled great amounts of secondhand smoke. I will do whatever I can to have the secondhand smoke/smokefree laws passed.

Thank you for your time,
Lori (Pennsylvania)

I am a woman of 60 there are a number of places I cannot go into any more. I use to be a bowler and had to stop because of the smoke, I would get bronchitus 3-4 times a year. I have been out of that environment a year and have not had it sense. Where are my rights why should I have to stop bowling because of a few that chose to pollute the air.

Jaynie (Iowa)

I am currently a student and have been working full-time nights for the past 8 years to put myself through college. I work at a local hotel. Since I started working at the hotel, they have allowed the employees to smoke behind the desk in a corner. Well I have always done my best to ignore it and say nothing about it because I work at night and I am there alone.

Well it has gotten to the point now, that the employees that work the shift before I do smoke right before I get there. I have frequent migraines and sinus issues from all of the residue that has been left behind from them smoking and often times some residual smoke from them smoking read more...

I live in Eugene, Oregon and thanks to a city ordinance, I can enjoy bars and other public accomodations and breathe at the same time! But much work needs to be done to educate and reform the vast majority of smokers out there who believe that exposing other people to their second-hand smoke is "no big deal." I am particularly concerned with the situation of children who live with smoking parents

It is the beginning of the end for this kind of irresponsible but in many
places, still socially acceptable kind of behavior. I look forward to the day when all forms of addiction are considered health issues and when all people can leave their homes assured that they will not have to inhale cigarette smoke.

Michelle (Oregon)

I have lived in a house full of smoke for 13 years and I'm sick and tired of trying to deal with it. I will be fourteen in August and the only birthday present I really want is a smoke-free house to come home to. I was born a nonsmoker and I want to keep it that way.

Amanda (Tennessee)

I work in a public school. This sounds good because the system says we are smoke free in the buildings and are working on banning smoking on the entire campus of each school. The problem is we have several staff that think it is a great idea to take the students to the bowling alley which is not smoke free. They say it won't be bad during the day because we will be at one end of the building. I do not want to be exposed to this environment, especially since I thought I was working in a smoke free environment. It seems awful to expose the students also.

Cathy (Louisiana)

I am in my mid 70's. Everyone smoked either cigarettes, cigars or pipes when I was young. My dad smoked pipes and cigars all day long, inside and outdoors. One was burning all the time even when he wasn't puffing on it. Our house smelled like smoke - and our car smelled like smoke. People's clothes smelled like smoke - even the ones who didn't smoke smelled like smoke. People smoked at work and in restaurants and in the waiting rooms of almost everywhere. So it was normal to smell smoke. We thought nothing of it. We even sang the popular song read more...

Do you mind if I spit in your face?

After 15 years of dealing cards on the Las Vegas Strip, I equate smokers as customers who might as well just spit in my face. The toxic fumes from the burning end of a cigarette become apparent when, during and 8 hour shift in a casino, a dealer has 1 or more chain smokers gambling at my table and, eventually, her eyes burn and turn blood red. The sinuses drain uncontrollably. We start to sneeze and cough up phlegm and get earaches. This is just the tip of the iceberg! read more...

I am a 23 year old college student. When I was little my brother and I would fly little paper airplanes to my mom that said, "smoking kills" We put up anti-smoking posters on our curtains for my mom to read. She kept lighting up. Three years ago, my mom found out she had lung cancer. They told her she had three months to live. ...She would give ANYTHING to see me graduate college. I am taking six classes at a time fearing she will die any day without seeing my graduation... If only people knew this may happen to them. I want my mom to live to see my graduation. I want those posters and paper airplanes to reach every smoker in this country... and finally, I want to thank you for being part of my vision.

Sarah (Michigan)

I now have asthma caused by second hand smoke. I have never smoked. Now it is hard for me to breathe around anyone who has been smoking. My hotel just went smoke free. I have an easier time at work. I know that there is some smoke around, but not as bad. People who smoke will sneak a smoke when they can. The only thing is they don't realize what they do to other people around them and especially me.

Eileen (Illinois)

I live in Las Vegas and am VERY disgusted with the casinos here who have no concern for their customers or their workers. We are all subjected to the foul air and are forced to breathe it if we want to be in any of the casinos. The gaming industry cannot understand that their behavior is keeping more people out than are going inside. I talk to so many people who feel the same way I do and are tired of being treated as a second-class citizen
even though I am in the majority. My wife and I do like to go into and enjoy doing a little gambling but we have to limit our time there to just a few minutes because of the dirty, hard to breathe, air. After just a few minutes I find it very hard to breathe and start gasping for air.

Apparently there has to be a winner and a loser when it comes to the freedom to breathe clean air. Unfortunately the losers are first and foremost the casinos themselves. We have laws that protect people from dangerous behavior so why don't we have laws that prevent people from killing their neighbors with second hand smoke?

Martin (Nevada)

I am writing from my job in Fairless Hills, PA. I currently work in a smoke filled environment. I was able to convince them to make our warehouse smoke-free, but even with the other office open to smoking, I feel just as bad as I did before. I am 1 of 6 employees that work here. the other 5 are heavy heavy smokers, going through pack after pack day in and day out. so even though it is smokefree in one area, the areas such as bathrooms , supervisor offices and break areas are all smoke filled. I wish that the State of Pennsylvania would finally do something and pass a NO-Smoking ordinance so I could finally breathe.

I believe that all work places should be smoke-free, regardless of what type of job it is.

Mike (Pennsylvania)

My name is David. I have been working for the Silver Star Casino for over 10 years. When I went to work there I was a picture perfect example of good health. I loved to stay fit. Back in 1996 I went to be a blackjack dealer. I fell in love with the job.

This job was almost perfect. Only problem I had no choice but to let some of our guest blow smoke in my face. When I approach management on this they told me it is part of the job. Well I noticed my health going down not to long after this. I went from being able to walk about 5 miles to barley being able to walk from my car into work. I finally broke down went to the doctor. He told me to quit smoking. I told him I never smoked a day in my life. He then told me I should leave my job and find another line of work. I went home broke down and cried.

… Now I job that I was in love with had became my worst nightmare. Every night I pray for this nightmare to end. I pray to once again for me to love my job. They only way I can rediscover that feeling, is to remove the one thing that robs me of it…smoking.


I was hired by a grassroots organization in Astoria, NY to design and implement a cancer survivorship program under a grant from the LAF. You can imagine my shock when I discovered that the founder, a 14-year survivor of breast cancer, smokes, as does the tenant organization in this small space. After 6 months of inhaling this stuff and contending w/bouts of bronchitis, I finally confronted the founder. She said, "Well, forget it...I am not stopping smoking here!" After an hour, she came out and changed all the air filters in the office and called the air conditioning company to service our air system. Okay...a bit better. But smoking in the office is illegal in NY and she is adamant about not quitting. So what am I to do? Take legal action, contact the funding sources, or quit this job as others have done before me who are unwilling to work in a smoke filled workplace

C.A., Astoria, NY

I grew up in a house of three kids and two smoking parents. My father smoked two packs a day and my mother smoked one pack a day. I am currently 39 years old and my mother recently passed away at 67 after a long battle with breast cancer. She also had thyroid cancer. There had been absolutely NO history of breast cancer on her side of the family until she contracted the disease in her fifties, had surgery and chemo, went into remission, and then was rediagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in her liver. My sister, at age 37, was diagnosed with breast cancer the October before my mother's recurrence. She became metastatic within a year and is now 41 years old with three children. As a result, I have had a preventative double mastectomy and I believe all of this loss in my immediate family is due to smoking exposure. There is some history on my father's side, however, it does not explain my mother's aggressive disease and premature death. As it stands, I will go through the horrific events cancer brings again (this time with my sister) and will be the only female left in my immediate family.

My father, at age 75, and my brother, at age 36, and myself will be left without two fabulous women in our lives. I believe smoking and the tobacco industry either created the cancer outright or aggravated a gene in our family as research has suggested.

Without tobacco, my family would have much more time with my sister and my mother. My children would have gotten to know their grandmother better and wouldn't cry and wouldn't have to talk about missing her. I wouldn't have to worry about my sister's kids and neither would she. Please help stop the tobacco industry from destroying families.

Kathleen G., Arlington Heights, IL

I work for General Motors Shreveport Assembly Plant. I work in the old Plant. The problem is the employee entrance. Most mornings I have to walk through a screen of smoke in order to enter the building. I have made phone calls and talked to members of management and the Union. No one can or will do anything about the problem. I have talked to the persons smoking in this area and they feel it's within the Law as long as they are outside the doors. Something needs to be done now.

Joe, Shreveport, LA

My story involves second hand smoke in Florida. Because of our warm weather one of the pleasures in dining out is the ability to eat outdoors. Nothing is better then the opportunity to enjoy a nice meal with friends outdoors overlooking the ocean. The smoking laws in Florida make it illegal for a patron to smoke indoors but smokers are allowed to smoke in outside dining areas. The result of the way the law is currently written is that most all smokers select the outdoor seating. It seems many
smokers cannot sit for 1 hour without smoking.

I sometimes forget this fact and when my wife and I go to a restaurant near the water I request seating outside. Inevitably within minutes I am surrounded by the stench of cigarette smoke and what began as an enjoyable evening turns in to a horrible dining event. These patrons do not care if you and your party are trying to enjoy a nice meal they have to smoke. I have seen these same people eating dinner with a cigarette burning in the ashtray. So on a nice pleasant evening some of the best seats in the establishment are ruined by the insensitive actions of smokers.

I wish for all of our benefit that Florida would out law smoking anywhere in public. If you smoke you have that right. The minute that right interferes with my right to clean air your right to smoke ends. You can smoke in your car, home, anywhere you're in a private place. The minute your in a public place, sidewalk, entrance to a building, anywhere people might be your right to smoke should not exist. This ruins what should be a wonderful experience to us people with enough sense to not smoke.

J. S., Clermont, FL

I live in a rather small apartment. At one time, both of my parents smoked. That was until my mom got pregnant with me. She stopped (I will give her credit for that) but she started right back up after being smoke-free for over 9 months. My father continued to smoke, however, until he had a bad case of pneumonia. His doctor instructed him that if he didn't stop, then he would die (pretty much the exact phrasing). So, my father quit Cold Turkey, right away. He hasn't started back up in over 10 years. My older brother and sister both tried cigarettes. However, my brother chose to remain tobacco free. My older sister did not. Onward...My younger sister (and the final sibling after me) started smoking, too, and continues to do so with the support of her boyfriend (also, with my parents knowing). My 16-year-old sister now openly smokes in front of both of my parents in the middle of my living room right next to my mom. My bedroom is the only place where I manage to keep the smoke out, or at least down to a level that I can tolerate.

Trying to get my mom to smoke next to a window was such a chore. I had to gripe about it for over a year before she decided to smoke near an open window. I also had further struggle trying to get her to make her youngest daughter smoke somewhere else. Furthermore, family gathering are the most tough. Just about everyone smokes in my family. Both of my grandparents did (but quit some time ago), both of my sisters do, my mom does, many of my sibling friends, and their partners do. I fight this by denying my mom any transportation from me for the sole purpose of purchasing tobacco. All in all, I am under constant struggle to keep myself away from second hand smoke. I'm even going so far as to move into a college that I'm attending that's no more than 15 minutes away from my house to get away from the smoke. I was incredibly pleased to find that Wegmans Food stores would no longer carry any tobacco products. Also, the tax on smokers combined with incredibly high prices of tobacco pleased me. It shows me that this country is growing a brain and realizing how we are not only killing ourselves when we "light up" but also, also those around us.

I am 19 years old and have never once considered using tobacco.


Andrew W., Duncannon, PA

Due to smoking I have had a operation for a blocked artery, a stint put in and lost half of my left lung. I'm limited to activities, have breathing problems and can only walk about a block before resting.

I am barred from the Oneida Casino's, because I complained too much to two people who was blowing smoke in my face and I called them idiots. Guards escorted me out the door. I have not smoked in 14 years, but the damage had already been done. I'm now 76 years old and suffer daily from smoking and second hand smoke. I have to avoid any function where there is smoking as it affects my eyes and breathing.

Howard L., Green Bay, WI

Hello, I have worked at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in Portland for 9 of the last 11 years. I am experiencing numerous health consequences of breathing 2nd hand smoke, including headaches, nausea, dizziness, increased asthma, bronchitis, larengal-pharengeal reflux and reactive airway. Not to mention the fact that it just plain reeks! The restaurant portion I work in is smoke-free... What a joke, there is nothing to separate it from the bar that promotes cigarettes, cigars and pipes. I am outraged that by virtue of earning a living I am forced to breath "class A" carcinogenic air. I have pleaded with the corporate office, provided them overwhelming evidence that my work environment is not safe and they have turned a blind eye.

I have since filed a workmans compensation claim that should be settled by next week. Maybe that will get their attention. I realize they are doing nothing "illegal" at this point by allowing the smoking, however, by OSHA standards I am entitled to a" safe" workplace free of hazardous air. Let me mention that numerous employees have quit because of this hazard that has compromised their health, some with very serious, medically iagnosed health issues. I am not going away and have been orking with the American Lung Association providing them with tremendous support to comply early with the state senate bill 571, which is given till Jan of 09 for mandatory compliance.

That simply is not soon enough. Why are the 35,000 food/beverage employees in this state the last to be protected from this heinous infringement on our right to breath clean air? What can I do to get them to do the morally right thing? They think people would be offended, however they have no idea how many people they are tuning away by our offensive air, and how many employees health is compromised in the waiting period. HELP!

Mary, W., Tigard, OR

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