February 6, 2012
Child’s Greatest Secondhand Smoke Exposure Coming From Inside Vehicles
Anti-smoking advocates have snuffed out virtually all smoking in public places, even many outdoor public areas such as parks, and the zealots are now focusing on private vehicles with armloads of data showing they are potentially more dangerous than smoke-filled bars and other less confined areas, reports the Associated Press (AP).
A report from government researchers has found that more than 1 in 5 high school and middle school children are passengers in cars while others are smoking. Exposure to such secondhand smoke has been linked with breathing problems and allergy symptoms, and more restrictions are needed to prevent it, the report says.
The National Youth Tobacco Survey was conducted nationwide in more than 20,000 kids in grades six through 12 every few years between 2000 and 2009. Brian King of the CDC and his colleagues analyzed data from the study.
Students were asked if they smoked themselves, as well as if they´d been in the car with someone who was smoking in the past week. In 2009, almost 90 percent of the youth said they didn´t smoke.
During the study period, the number of participants who reported recently being exposed to secondhand smoke in the car dropped from 48 percent to 30 percent overall. Among smokers, that rate fell from 82 percent to 76 percent, and in non-smokers, from 39 percent to 23 percent.
At the time the survey was initiated, no states had enacted comprehensive smoke-free legislation, but by mid-2011, 25 states had done so. These laws have led to significant reductions in secondhand smoke exposure, and also have encouraged voluntary smoke-free policies in homes and elsewhere, reports Nancy Walsh for MedPage Today.
“Additional factors that likely contributed to this decline in exposure include decreases in the prevalence of smoking in the United States and changes in public attitudes regarding the social acceptability of smoking near nonsmokers and children,” King and colleagues wrote.
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