WHO publishes methodological guidance on assessing the burden of disease of second hand smoke at national and local levels

Second-hand smoke (SHS) is one of the most important and most widespread exposures in the indoor environment. It affects a large proportion of the population, as smoking reaches up to three quarters of adult men in some countries and is seldom confined to outdoor settings. Children are commonly exposed to SHS when their parents are smokers. Some countries have passed legislation that prohibits smoking in the workplace, but elsewhere workers in the entertainment and food industries are frequently exposed to SHS on a daily basis. It has been known for many years that tobacco smoke is hazardous to health, and there is now a substantial literature that documents the risks associated specifically with exposure to SHS.

The total burden of disease in a population and how that burden is distributed are important pieces of information for defining and prioritizing strategies to protect population health. Estimates of the avoidable burden of disease indicate the gains in health that could be achieved by targeted interventions.

A Microsoft Excel spreadsheet for calculating the estimates described in this document can be obtained from WHO (E-mail contact: EBDassessment@who.int)