"Today, massive and conclusive scientific evidence documents adverse effects of involuntary smoking on children and adults, including cancer and cardiovascular diseases in adults, and adverse respiratory effects in both children and adults." -2006 Surgeon General's report
Take a look at Women & Cancer's article, "Involuntary and Far from Innocuous: The Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke," written by Kari Bohlke, ScD.
"There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and the evidence of adverse effects on health is incontrovertible. These are important messages from a 2006 report from the U.S. Surgeon General. Fortunately, steps to reduce the exposure of nonsmokers to tobacco smoke are beginning to make a difference. These benefits will likely expand across the lifespan, through reductions in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), ear infections, and respiratory problems in infants and children and reductions in cancer and heart disease in adults...
"Secondhand smoke is classified as a known human carcinogen by the National Toxicology Program as well as the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It contains at least 250 chemicals that are known to be toxic or carcinogenic. Carcinogens present in secondhand smoke include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, N-nitrosamines, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, benzene, butadiene, and metals such as cadmium and lead.
"And risk of cancer is just the beginning of the story. Secondhand smoke also has clear adverse effects on the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. In fact, the estimated number of cardiovascular deaths due to secondhand smoke far exceeds the estimated number of lung cancer deaths due to secondhand smoke."
The number of cardiovascular deaths due to secondhand smoke far exceeds the estimated number of lung cancer deaths due to secondhand smoke? (I just had to repeat that.) Oh, my God.
I grew up in a seven-pack-a-day household. Four packs a day from my father; two to three packs a day for my mother. I remember starting college at the age of 17, thinking that I must be allergic, all of a sudden, to our cat: I couldn't breathe. I had never had asthma before. Curiously, the symptoms disappeared when I moved away from home.
Who knows, when you think of it, what other ailments I have, any of us have, due to that secondhand smoke we lived with for so long? I don't want to place blame, but...