Nearly half of all children in the United States are still exposed to secondhand smoke each week, according to a new national survey. Researchers found that while the country has come quite a ways in changing the social perception of smoking over the past 10 years, children are still exposed to secondhand smoke at alarming rates.
“Children especially deserve smoke-free environments, and all public places where children eat and play should be protected from secondhand smoke,” said Jonathan Klein, M.D., FAAP, director of the American Academy of Pediatrics Julius B. Richmond Center for Excellence. “Adults have the power to make healthier decisions for their children, and there needs to be more done to protect children in homes and cars from the dangers of secondhand smoke,” said Klein.
If you need convincing that secondhand smoke is dangerous, check the facts: Secondhand smoke exposure causes approximately 3,400 lung cancer deaths annually among adult nonsmokers in the United States. Young children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at a higher risk of developing asthma, ear infections and cavities, and infants are at a higher risk for SIDS.
“The effects of secondhand smoke are serious and should not be minimized,” said Cheryl G. Healton, President and CEO of the American Legacy Foundation, the only national public health foundation solely dedicated to reducing tobacco use in the U.S. “Addressing this issue starts with helping adult smokers and parents quit. Most know they are dealing with a tough addiction, so pediatricians and others can provide the tools and resources for parents to re-learn their life without cigarettes,” Healton said.
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