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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

58 Million Exposed to Secondhand Smoke

Smoking cigarettes and exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) is associated with a number of health problems. While the numbers of smokers and those exposed to others' smoke continues to drop in the United States, there are still nearly 58 million people who are exposed to SHS (1 in 4 nonsmokers), The New York Times reports. The findings come from the new Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In fact, two in every five children aged three to 11 years are still exposed to SHS. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) shows that those most at risk of SHS exposure include:
  • Children
  • Blacks
  • People Living in rental Housing
  • Those Living in Poverty
“Secondhand smoke can kill. Too many Americans, and especially too many American children, are still exposed to it,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. in a news release. “That 40 percent of children -- including seven in 10 black children -- are still exposed shows how much more we have to do to protect everyone from this preventable health hazard.”

Over the years, reductions in SHS exposure can mostly be credited to states and municipalities banning smoking in bars, restaurants and offices, as well as many Americans making their homes smoke free, according to the article. However, banning smoking in apartments and other forms of multiunit housing has proven difficult, making them an ideal place for nonsmokers to be exposed.

Every year, health experts estimate that SHS exposure causes 41,000 deaths from lung cancer and heart disease, and 400 deaths from sudden infant death syndrome.

“About 80 million Americans live in multiunit housing, where secondhand smoke can seep into smoke-free units and shared areas from units where smoking occurs,” said Brian King, Ph.D., acting deputy director for research translation in CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “The potential of exposure in subsidized housing is especially concerning because many of the residents -- including children, the elderly, and people with disabilities -- are particularly sensitive to the effects of secondhand smoke.”

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