We know that tobacco smoking is associated with a wide range of negative health effects in humans, which holds for active smoking, second hand smoking and probably even third hand smoking.

What are the effects of second hand smoke exposure on plants?

For example the german wikipedia page on nitrogen dioxide claims that exposure to nitrogen dioxide leads to reduced yield in apple and pear trees, white birch, barley and salad. It is also stated that first physical signs of alterations can be detected with one time exposure at levels as low as 3 ppb for less than one hour. However I cannot access the source because it is a book.

Bonus: How does cannabis smoke differ from tobacco smoke with respect to plant health?

  • $\begingroup$ I think you should see the words "start a bounty" right below my comment - clicking on it, I think, will let you set a bounty $\endgroup$
    – user24965
    Mar 31, 2019 at 3:19
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    $\begingroup$ Plants have varied reactions to smoke of different kinds, either to grow differently or to fall ill. this page says that tomatoes and peppermint contain nicotine and nicotine is used to treat plants, so the nicotine can't be that detrimental to them, but the other many smoke compounds can make them ill, but only in very high levels of smoke. takepart.com/article/2015/04/15/… $\endgroup$ Mar 31, 2019 at 9:49
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    $\begingroup$ vidarholen.net/contents/junk/nicotine.html $\endgroup$ Mar 31, 2019 at 9:50
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    $\begingroup$ @CuriousIndeed Your question seems to be asking about the gaseous components of cigarette smoke and their effects on plants, but, considering a house plant exposed to concentrated cigarette smoke, I think the particulate matter in secondhand smoke is likely more immediately harmful to plant health. Consider the effect that any particulate matter will have: residue or tar that settles on the leaves will both inhibit photosynthesis and clog stomata, reducing the efficiency of gas exchange. $\endgroup$
    – acvill
    Sep 18, 2019 at 21:32

1 Answer 1


Results from the peppermint plants study show that all the peppermint plants contain minor amounts of nicotine before treatment, but the experiments revealed that the plants also incorporate nicotine considerably from the soil as well as from tobacco smoke. These findings demonstrate for the first time that the reported occurrence of nicotine indeed may originate from tobacco. The incorporated nicotine was subsequently metabolized by the plants.

Effects: Apart from the nutritional aspects, the results on nicotine uptake may also affect basic plant biology, because they demonstrate that alkaloids can be transferred from one plant, after its death, to another plant species.

The plants, said Dirk Selmar, the study’s lead author, appeared, at first, to be unchanged. “As far as we have seen, there have been no negative effects on the growth,” he wrote in an email. Yet, tests for nicotine, conducted at various stages in the plants’ life, found that they had “tremendously elevated nicotine levels,” Selmar said.


https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2Fs13593-015-0298-x.pdf http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/04/15/nicotine-plants-second-hand-smoke https://www.ehow.com/info_7987584_effect-cigarette-smoke-house-plants.html

some anecdotal answers (to be taken with a grain of salt) on your 2nd bonus question: https://www.rollitup.org/t/is-smoking-weed-around-a-growing-plant-bad.182179/

  • $\begingroup$ The answer focused too much on nicotine an ignores the rest..considering smoking, the health hazards of nicotine are negligible compared to the other constitutes of smoke..e.g Polyzyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAR), Nitrosamines, Aldeshydes, Arsenic, Nickel, Cadmium..Thus I'm not particularly happy with the answer however because its the only one so far the bounty goes to you if no one else answers... $\endgroup$ Sep 24, 2019 at 10:42

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