Kids and Secondhand Smoke Risks
Written by Faith Anderson on February 10, 2012
Anti-Smoking Laws Don’t Address Smoking in Cars
As more stringent laws are passed banning smoking in public places, including bars, private places like homes and cars are where more people encounter secondhand smoke these days. Anti-smoking advocates have focused on cars in particular because research indicates they may be more dangerous than less-confined areas like bars. The CDC study is based on national surveys conducted at private and public high schools and middle schools. Students involved in the survey were asked how often they rode in cars while someone else was smoking within the past week, and the most common answer was one or two days. The CDC’s research was published online Monday in Pediatrics.
Kids Exposed to Secondhand Smoke in Cars “Problematic”
A CDC fact sheet indicates that even small amounts of secondhand smoke can be risky. “There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke,” says the CDC. Overall, 22% of teens ad pre-teens were exposed to secondhand smoke in cars in 2009. Although that figure declined gradually throughout the decade, from 40% in 2000, the numbers of kids still facing the hazards “is certainly problematic,” said CDC researcher and lead author Brian King. “The car is the only source of exposure for some of these children, so if you can reduce that exposure, it’s definitely advantageous for health,” King said. The CDC advises parents to prohibit smoking in their homes and cars, and indicates that opening a car window will not protect kids from cigarette smoke inside the car. Measures banning smoking in cars when children are present have already been adopted in some states and proposed in several others.