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Your Child

40% of Children 3 to 11 Are Exposed to Secondhand Smoke

2:00

The good news is that exposure to secondhand smoke dropped by half in the United States between 1999 and 2012. While more and more people are giving up the unhealthy habit, the amount of children being exposed to secondhand smoke is still significant – particularly in the African-American population. 

In a recent report, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 58 million American nonsmokers are exposed to secondhand smoke.

In that group, the CDC suggests that 40 percent of children aged 3 to 11 are breathing in secondhand smoke and among black children, the number is much higher at 70 percent.

"Secondhand smoke can kill, and too many Americans -- and particularly too many children -- are still exposed to secondhand smoke," Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, said during a midday press conference.

Frieden, citing the U.S. Surgeon General, said, "There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke." Tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals including about 70 that can cause cancer, he added.

The connection of secondhand smoke and illnesses in children has been widely studied and reported. In infants and children, secondhand smoke has been linked to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), respiratory infections, ear infections and asthma attacks.

In adult nonsmokers, passive smoke has been tied to heart disease, stroke and lung cancer, according to Frieden.

Each year, secondhand smoke kills more than 41,000 Americans from lung cancer and heart disease, and causes 400 deaths from SIDS, Frieden said. "These deaths are entirely preventable," he added.

Susan Liss, executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in a statement: "The high level of child exposure to secondhand smoke also underscores the need for parents to take additional steps to protect children, such as ensuring that homes, cars and other places frequented by children are smoke-free. For parents who smoke, the best step to protect children is to quit smoking."

Smoking can become such a mindless habit that parents and caregivers forget that their children are breathing in the smoke they exhale. In nonsmoking homes, it can be difficult when friends or other family members want to light up when visiting. Asking people to either step outside or not smoke in the house has caused many a friends and family rift. But, standing your ground will protect your child from the influence of smoking and the polluted air that flows from a smoker.

Most restaurants, bars and workplaces have issued smoke-free policies but one's home and auto are open to personal choice. The number of U.S. households that are now smoke-free has increased in the past 20 years from 43 percent to 83 percent and that’s truly amazing considering our long love affair with cigarettes and cigars!

However, when 1 in 4 nonsmokers – including many children-are still being exposed, it’s going to take more parents, friends and family members to put down their cigarettes for good to finally stop children and adults from suffering the disastrous effects of breathing in secondhand smoke.

Source: Steven Reinberg, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/adolescents-and-teen-health-news-719/58-million-americans-exposed-to-secondhand-smoke-cdc-696149.html

Your Teen

Half of American Teens Breathe Secondhand Smoke

2:00

We’ve come a long way in this country in regards to making public places free of cigarette smoke, but people in their home or car can smoke as much as they like- and that’s their right to do so. When there are children in those homes and cars – they’re inhaling secondhand smoke and that can have a major impact on their physical wellbeing.

Secondhand smoke is the smoke a smoker breathes out and that comes from the tip of burning cigarettes, pipes, and cigars. It contains about 4,000 chemicals. Many of these chemicals are dangerous; more than 50 are known to cause cancer. Anytime children breathe in secondhand smoke they are exposed to these chemicals. 

Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Office of Smoking and Health examined data from more than 18,000 middle school and high school students; researchers found that 48 percent reported exposure to secondhand smoke in 2013. Additionally, secondhand smoke exposure was reportedly nine times higher among never-smoking teens with no smoke-free rules in their home and car, compared to those with 100 percent smoke-free rules.

"The findings weren't really a surprise as much as a call for public health action," said study author Brian King, deputy director. "The continuing research [on secondhand smoke] really helps us put a finger on who's exposed and in what location," he said.

According to the study, secondhand smoke exposure is known to contribute to several health problems in children, including respiratory symptoms, impaired lung function, middle ear disease and sudden infant death syndrome.

Analyzing questionnaire responses from students in grades 6 through 12 in 2013, King and his colleagues found that 16 percent were exposed to secondhand smoke at home and 15 percent in a vehicle. Additionally, 17 percent reported secondhand smoke exposure at school, 27 percent of those who were old enough to have a job, at work and 35 percent in indoor and outdoor public areas.

"We did assess the extent of exposure based on whether youth were [protected] by smoke-free policies, and it's no surprise that those covered by policies had lower exposure," King said.

Regarding home and car exposure, "I think it really comes down to individual families to take that action," he added.

Dr. Normal Edelman, senior scientific advisor for the American Lung Association, called the research "very useful." He noted that comprehensive public no-smoking policies have helped lower U.S. smoking rates by helping some smokers break the habit.

"We've made great strides in protecting adults from secondhand smoke ... and the health effects have been dramatic," Edelman said. "So now it's time to protect kids from secondhand smoke, and this [study] shows that many of our kids are exposed to at least some secondhand smoke. Clearly, if they live with smokers, they're exposed to a lot, and I think those kids are most at risk."

On a personal note, my mother smoked from the time I was born to after I left home. In those bygone days, most people were not aware of the dangers of smoking and cigarette ads even promoted the “health benefits” from taking a long drag off a cigarette.

Unfortunately for me, the heath benefits were nil. I had bronchitis 2 or 3 times a year and ear infections when I was little. I developed asthma, as I got older.  No one ever made the connection between the constant cigarette smoke in the house and car and my illnesses. I was just considered a rather “sickly child.” Eventually, my mother developed COPD.

Believe me when I say secondhand smoke can become a real health problem for children.

While 26 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have implemented comprehensive smoke-free laws prohibiting smoking in all indoor public places and work sites -- including restaurants and bars -- several states have no statewide laws addressing secondhand smoke in public areas, and others have less stringent restrictions.

Source: Maureen Salamon, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/adolescents-and-teen-health-news-719/half-of-u-s-teens-exposed-to-secondhand-smoke-study-says-706864.html

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/tobacco/Pages/Dangers-of-Secondhand-Smoke.aspx

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