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Smoke-free air laws effective at protecting children from secondhand smoke
Date:6/6/2010

duce exposure to secondhand smoke among adults. Our results show a similar association in children and adolescents not living with a smoker in the home," said Gregory Connolly, senior author of the paper and director of the Tobacco Control Research Program at HSPH. Douglas Dockery, professor of environmental epidemiology and chair of the Department of Environmental Health, also was a study author.

According to the 2006 Surgeon General's Report, there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic compounds in secondhand smoke because they have higher breathing rates and their lungs are still developing, the authors write. Exposure to secondhand smoke in children can irritate the lungs, resulting in coughing or wheezing, and can trigger an asthma attack in children with asthma. Secondhand smoke also has been associated with sudden infant death syndrome, respiratory illnesses and middle ear disease.

For children, the home is the primary source of secondhand smoke exposure and most of the smoking is done by the parents. Potential exposure sources for children outside the home include cars, private child care centers, restaurants, shopping malls and parks.

Approximately 20 percent of the youth in the HSPH study lived with a smoker in the home. These children had the highest cotinine levels and could benefit the most from an intervention to reduce exposure, regardless of smoke-free laws that might be in place, say the researchers.

"One way to reduce or prevent adults from smoking around children is for physicians to counsel parents to stop smoking," said Connolly.


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Contact: Todd Datz
tdatz@hsph.harvard.edu
617-998-8819
Harvard School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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