Healthy living

Aboriginal health – protecting your family and friends from second-hand smoke

What’s in a cigarette?

Cigarettes can contain around 1000 different chemicals – some of them are really toxic.

Drawing of a burning cigarette surrounded by bottles, jars and other containers of chemicals

Everybody knows smoking is harmful and every smoke you have causes damage to your body. But did you know that your cigarette smoke can also harm the health of your family and friends who inhale it?

Drawing of woman working at a computer and talking on the telephone

What is second-hand smoke?

There was a time when people smoked just about anywhere.

Drawing of man smoking in a car, with smoke spreading to his wife and children

But now we know when you smoke, the smoke from the cigarettes can be even more harmful to the people around you who breathe in that second-hand smoke.

This is sometimes called passive smoking, and the smoke is called second-hand smoke, environmental tobacco smoke or side-stream smoke. It contains many of the toxic chemicals which were filtered out by the cigarette filter.

Drawing of Aboriginal man smoking on the couch in front of his wife and children, who are coughing

A lot of our people are giving up smoking.

Drawing of Aboriginal man walking away from two people who are smoking

Most people who do smoke try to do it in areas away from other people.

Drawing of three Aboriginal people smoking in group, standing far away from another group of adults and children

If you choose to smoke please respect your family, friends and community members who do not smoke. Smoke from your cigarette can make them really sick.

Take extra care around old people, people with health problems, pregnant women and especially our children.

Be mindful not to smoke around them.

Drawing of three Aboriginal people standing outside a house smoking, while a pregnant woman and her family watch tv inside

How can you protect other people from second-hand smoke?

  • Never smoke in the house.
  • At home set up an outdoor area where people can go to smoke.
  • Do not let children hang around a smoking area.
  • Put up signs to let people know where they can smoke.
  • If you are visiting – ask where you can smoke, people will like you showing respect for them and their family.
  • Remember it’s up to you, because people may feel too ashamed to ask you not to smoke near them.

Drawing of a group of Aboriginal people socialising outdoors

Where to get help

If you’re thinking about quitting or cutting down on smokes there are a lot of people who could help you.

You can speak to your:

  • doctor or GP
  • local nurse
  • chemist
  • Aboriginal health practitioner
  • AMS health worker
  • tobacco cessation worker
  • other people who have quit
  • family and friends.


Quitline is a confidential telephone service. You can call Quitline and choose to speak with an Aboriginal counsellor. Quitline counsellors are very experienced in helping people stop or reduce their smoking.

Quitline counsellors understand that quitting smoking can be tough, and they will support you to find the way to quit that works for you.

Phone: 13 7848 (13 QUIT) (local call rates from land line only). You can also text 0477 765 007 to receive a call back from a counsellor. Counsellors are available from:

  • Monday to Friday 6am – 7pm
  • Saturday 11.30pm – 2.30pm
  • Sunday closed.


  • Second-hand smoke contains toxic chemicals.
  • Your cigarette smoke can harm the health of your family and friends who breathe it in.
  • Never smoke inside a house.

Illustrations by Patrick Bayly


Chronic Disease Prevention Directorate

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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