Tobacco smoke contains numerous compounds emitted as gases and condensed tar particles. The sidestream smoke emissions, which constitute the major part of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), are generally larger than the mainstream smoke emissions. Many of the organic compounds, belonging to a variety of chemical classes, are known to be genotoxic and carcinogenic. These include the known constituents, alkenes, nitrosamines, aromatic and heterocyclic hydrocarbons and amines. Emission of sidestream smoke in indoor environments with relatively low ventilation rates can result in pollutant concentrations above those generally encountered in ambient air in urban areas. The chemical characteristics of ETS thus support the indications that exposure to ETS can be causally associated with the induction of several types of cancer.