Thirdhand Smoke And Your Quit

Have you ever entered a room and smelled that stale cigarette smell? That was the leftover residue from previously smoked butts, the byproduct of secondhand smoke called thirdhand smoke.

Tar, nicotine, and the chemicals in smoke cling onto indoor surfaces such as furniture, upholstery, carpets and walls. In closed spaces, the air pollutants from tobacco smoke enter your lungs and irritate them. Tobacco residue not only lingers on surfaces, it also remains on fingers, teeth, clothing and hair. It is important to understand that both secondhand and thirdhand smoke can damage your health, but that thirdhand smoke affects the environment long after the smoker has left. There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke.

Thirdhand smoke affects the quality of the air we breathe.  Tobacco smoke contains 7,000 chemicals, including many carcinogens. Research shows that even after five hours, tobacco particles remain present in the air. They eventually join other indoor pollutants to create a toxic mix. People who come in contact with thirdhand smoke by touching, ingesting or inhaling any of the particles, are increasing their risk of developing a tobacco-related health problem. Children and pets are particularly susceptible to this invisible coating of tar and toxins. Tobacco odor can also be a relapse trigger for most ex-smokers.

How to eliminate thirdhand smoke from your environment

The best way to eliminate thirdhand smoke from your environment is to create a nonsmoking space for yourself, and then staunchly defend it from smokers.  Layers of residue from thirdhand smoke accumulate over time, and the combination of particles and tar is difficult to remove. Outlined below are suggestions you can add to your quit plan to eliminate thirdhand smoke from your space:

  • Make your home, car, office a smoke-free environment.

  • Wipe down the tables and other surfaces where you used to smoke.
  • Throw away any clothes, tablecloths, fabric that contains heavy tobacco smell.  Replace with fresh new items.

  • Have your car professionally cleaned.  Most professional car wash centers use professional cleaning products that help eliminate stubborn tobacco odor. 

  • If your budget permits, replace your carpet or have your carpet professionally cleaned.

  • Stay away from designated smoking areas.  

  • Consider using an air purifier to clean the air in a room.


Removing the thirdhand smoke from your environment is an excellent way to begin a quit, for you and all your loved ones.  Your home will be freer from toxins and tobacco tar, and feel fresh and clean.  Stay focused and remember that quitting smoking is the best thing you can do for your health!  Keep the quit!

JanetQ CTTS-M

Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist