I'm thinking about buying an air purifier. Do any of them work on cigarette smoke?

Answer From J. Taylor Hays, M.D.

If you're looking for an air purifier that will eliminate cigarette smoke, you're out of luck.

Tobacco smoke is made up of gaseous pollutants and particulate matter. Most air purifiers, also called air cleaners, aren't designed to remove gaseous pollutants.

Mechanical air filters, such as high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, and electronic air cleaners, such as ionizers, target particles. While air cleaning devices can help reduce levels of smaller airborne particles, research suggests that the devices aren't 100 percent effective. This might be due to the difficulty of cleaning particles from every room in a home, and the fact that many particles from secondhand smoke are on the surfaces of furniture and clothing. When someone touches these surfaces, the particles become airborne again and are breathed in before they can be filtered. Air cleaners also might not decrease harmful health effects caused by indoor pollutants such as cigarette smoke.

Other air cleaners generate ozone, which is a lung irritant. At levels that don't exceed public health standards, ozone has little ability to remove air contaminants such as cigarette smoke.

The best way to protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke is to not allow smoking in your home. If you smoke, this is another good reason to stop.

With

J. Taylor Hays, M.D.

Jan. 16, 2021 See more Expert Answers

See also

  1. 3 ways to get closer to achieving your goals
  2. Make healthy habits stick
  3. 5 do's and don'ts for staying motivated
  4. 3 ways to avoid secondhand smoke
  5. 7 signs and symptoms not to ignore
  6. Energy management
  7. After COVID-19 vaccination: Is it OK to visit with friends and loved ones?
  8. Animal bites: Do you need a tetanus shot?
  9. Are you doing everything you can to stay healthy?
  10. Belching, intestinal gas, gas pains and bloating
  11. Bone health tips
  12. Can COVID-19 (coronavirus) spread through food, water, surfaces and pets?
  13. Cancer-prevention strategies
  14. Cellphones and cancer
  15. Colon cancer screening
  16. Coronavirus safety tips for going out
  17. Coronavirus: What is it and how can I protect myself?
  18. Coronavirus travel advice
  19. Plastic surgery
  20. Herd immunity and coronavirus
  21. COVID-19 and holidays
  22. Long-term effects of COVID-19
  23. COVID-19: How much protection do face masks offer?
  24. COVID-19 (coronavirus): Quarantine, self-isolation and social distancing
  25. Do adults need shots?
  26. Don't save leftover pain pills
  27. Exercise: Check with your doctor
  28. Find meaning in the small things
  29. Flu Shot Prevents Heart Attack
  30. Functional fitness training
  31. Overcome obstacles to your goals
  32. Healthy holiday habits: How to get back on track
  33. Hand drying
  34. Hand-washing tips
  35. Healthy habits that boost happiness
  36. Healthy heart for life: Avoiding heart disease
  37. Heart attack prevention: Should I avoid secondhand smoke?
  38. Home Health Hazards
  39. Brown fat
  40. How social support spurs you
  41. Break the busy cycle
  42. How to take your pulse
  43. How to safely go to your doctor during the COVID-19 pandemic
  44. How to take your temperature
  45. How well do you wash your hands?
  46. Injury Season for Snow Blowers
  47. Investing in yourself
  48. Is antibacterial soap a do or a don't?
  49. Keep the focus on your long-term vision
  50. Liposuction alternatives
  51. Lost in Space
  52. Making progress towards your goals
  53. Mammogram guidelines: What are they?
  54. Make over your mindset to make time for your health
  55. Mayo Clinic Minute: You're washing your hands all wrong
  56. Mayo Clinic Minute: How dirty are common surfaces?
  57. Measles vaccine: Can I get the measles if I've already been vaccinated?
  58. Medical family tree
  59. Infographic: Organ Donation Donate Life
  60. Infographic: Paired Donation Chain
  61. Infographic: Pancreas Kidney Transplant
  62. Personal health records
  63. Personalize your wellness journey
  64. Stick to healthy-eating goals at social gatherings
  65. Posture: Align yourself for good health
  66. Posture check: Do you stand up straight?
  67. New Year's resolutions
  68. Safe outdoor activities during the COVID-19 pandemic
  69. Secondhand smoke
  70. Creating a wellness vision
  71. Sitting risks: How harmful is too much sitting?
  72. Good posture tips
  73. Back exercises
  74. Proper lifting techniques
  75. Stay healthy during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic
  76. Stop multitasking and focus
  77. Telemedicine online doctor visits
  78. Thirdhand smoke: What are the dangers?
  79. Want good health? Build a solid base
  80. The benefits of gratitude
  81. Video: Travel safely for medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic
  82. Travel Safety
  83. Triclosan
  84. Using if-then statements
  85. Vaccines for adults
  86. Fight coronavirus transmission at home
  87. What are superbugs?
  88. What are superbugs and how can I protect myself from infection?