Keeping Kids Healthy Advice
Kids and Secondhand Smoke Exposure
Most people are aware that exposure to secondhand smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke, is harmful to anyone exposed to it. According to the CDC more than 15 million children are exposed to secondhand smoke everyday and more than 280 children die each year as a result of respiratory illnesses caused by secondhand smoke inhalation. A study, conducted in 1997 showed that exposure to secondhand smoke by children lead to over 500,000 visit to the doctor for asthma, 1.3 million for coughs, 115,000 for pneumonia, 14,000 for tonsillectomies or adenoidectomies, 260,000 for bronchitis, and 2 million for ear infections and about 6000 deaths (2800 due to low birth weight, 2000 from SIDS, 1000 from respiratory infection, 250 from burns, and 14 from asthma).
Secondhand smoke contains a mixture of the smoke given off by a burning cigarette, pipe or cigar and smoke exhaled from the lungs of the smoker. It contains more than 4000 substance, 40 of which are carcinogenic (cancer-causing). Approximately 3000 lung cancer deaths per year are caused by second hand smoke, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Environmental tobacco smoke is considered a Class-A human carcinogen by the EPA, meaning that it causes cancer and exposure to it is unsafe at any level.
The immediate effects of secondhand smoke exposure include eye irritation, headache, cough, sore throat, dizziness, and nausea. Asthma attacks can be triggered in both adults and children.
Obviously infants and young children whose parents smoke are the most seriously affected by secondhand smoke, but all children are susceptible because their lungs are still developing. Fetal exposure to secondhand smoke has been linked to low birth weight, SIDS, and asthma.
There’s only one way to protect your children from secondhand smoke, of course, and that’s to keep them away from it, by going outside or into another room to smoke, going outside to smoke, or ideally, by quitting smoking, as leaving the room and going outside only reduces their exposure to the smoke, and quitting is also beneficial to both you and your child.
Ways to reduce your child’s exposure to secondhand smoke include:
Stop smoking if you currently smoke. Consult your doctor for help if you need it.
Encourage smokers in your household to stop. If this is not possible, have them smoke outside of your home.
By an air purifier and change the filters often.
Make sure that your child’s school and daycare facility are smoke-free.
Don’t allow smoking in your car
Choose restaurants that are non-smoking or sit in non-smoking sections