Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residue from tobacco smoke. It is also called “tobacco smoke residue” or “stale tobacco smoke.” The chemicals in thirdhand smoke are toxic to humans, especially children. Thirdhand smoke can linger for years in dust and on household surfaces. It can also become embedded in carpets, furniture, clothes, and building materials. It is difficult and expensive to remove.
Cigar tobacco has similar chemicals as cigarette tobacco but in different proportions. Cigars have more nitrogen compounds, ammonia, and tar than cigarettes. These compounds produce cancer-causing substances called tobacco-specific nitrosamines.
Cigars make large quantities of secondhand smoke similar to the secondhand smoke from cigarettes. Smoke from cigars creates toxic thirdhand smoke. Like cigarettes, cigar smoke residue can become embedded in surfaces, clothes, carpets, furniture, and walls and expose people to harmful chemicals.
Do you have more questions about the toxic legacy of tobacco smoke, how it affects human health, and what we can do about it? Learn more here.
Updated: April 2023
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Hoffman D, Hoffmann I. Chemistry and Toxicology. In Cigars: Health Effects and Trends. Monograph 9. National Cancer Institute. Retrieved 01/22/2020 from https://cancercontrol.cancer.gov/brp/tcrb/monographs/9/index.html