Be aware of the effects of tobacco smoke, including secondhand smoke, on those with asthma


CONTACT: Monica Moore
(334) 206-3824

May is Asthma Awareness Month, and the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) would like to remind people of the harmful effects smoking and secondhand smoke have on those suffering from asthma.

Asthma is a chronic disease that affects a person’s airways. During an asthma attack, airways become swollen, making it hard to breathe. Asthma attacks, which can range from mild to life-threatening, are triggered when something irritates the airways. Triggers differ from person to person, but, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of the most common triggers is tobacco smoke, including secondhand smoke.

“One of the things people with asthma have to do to manage their disease is avoid triggers,” said Jennifer McNeel, director of the ADPH Tobacco Prevention and Control program.

McNeel said one way asthma sufferers can protect themselves is not allowing others to smoke in their home or car. “Opening a window will not protect you from smoke or a potential asthma attack,” she said. Other tips include:

  • Avoid places that allow smoking.
  • If children with asthma attend day care centers or schools, make sure those places have tobacco-free policies.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, children with asthma have worse and more frequent asthma attacks. McNeel said protecting children and other asthma sufferers from the potential trigger of tobacco smoke is just one among many benefits to quitting smoking.

“In addition to protecting family, friends and coworkers from the health risks associated with breathing secondhand smoke, smokers can reduce their own risk for heart attacks and cancer,” McNeel said.

For those who are ready to kick the habit, the Alabama Tobacco Quitline is available. Alabama residents can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit for help. The Quitline provides free, individualized coaching to help any type of smoker or tobacco user, including those using e-cigarettes and vaping, to quit. In addition, the Quitline offers up to eight weeks of free nicotine patches to those medically eligible and enrolled in the program. Quitline coaching services are available seven days a week from 6 a.m. to midnight.

For more information, visit ADPH Tobacco Prevention and Control at

County health departments throughout Alabama provide a wide range of confidential and professional services. Contact your local county health department for additional information.

Mission: To promote, protect, and improve Alabama’s health

Vision: Healthy People. Healthy Communities. Healthy Alabama.