Cigarette smoke can linger in homes and indoor areas for months, potentially causing cancer in children, Cancer Council Queensland research suggests.

Stale cigarette smoke clinging to furniture, carpets, walls and children’s toys could cause cancer, new research suggests.

Dubbed “third-hand smoke”, Cancer Council Queensland says it occurs when second-hand smoke that cigarette users breathe out reacts with indoor air and lingers in homes.

Cancer Council Queensland spokeswoman Katie Clift says it is important to promote the threat third-hand smoke has to human health on World No Tobacco Day on Saturday.

“Chemicals from second-hand smoke stick to curtains, dust, clothing, toys and floors – and can remain in a home as third-hand smoke on surfaces for months after active smoking occurs,” she said in a statement.

“Babies and toddlers are at high risk from crawling, putting hands and toys into their mouths and potentially swallowing or inhaling compounds from third-hand smoke.”

Ms Clift said making homes completely smoke-free was the only way for smokers to protect their families, particularly children.

She said the research showed many of the more than 4000 chemicals in second-hand smoke lingered long after cigarettes were put out, sticking to surfaces and damaging human DNA in a way that potentially caused cancer.

The research reinforced the need for the Queensland Government to fast-track new laws creating designated smoke-free public spaces across the state, Ms Clift said.

The Cancer Council Queensland also wants Health Minister Lawrence Springborg to outlaw smoking in cars.