Thursday, April 23, 2015

Is Exposure To Secondhand Smoke Reduced?

Of more than 20 million smoking-related deaths in the United States since 1964, 2.5 million were non-smokers who died from exposure to secondhand smoke. And 100,000 babies have died because of parental smoking, including smoking during pregnancy. 

Also known as passive smoke or environmental tobacco smoke, secondhand smoke is actually a mixture of 2 forms of smoke coming from burning tobacco. One is sidestream smoke that comes from the lighted end of a cigarette, pipe or cigar, and the other one is the mainstream smoke that is exhaled by a smoker.

While the collective exposure to secondhand smoke among Americans actually decreased by half between 1999 and 2012, 1 in 4 American are (some 58 million) still exposed to secondhand smoke, according to a report released by CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) on February 3, 2015. It was estimated that 40 percent of children (about 15 million) aged between 3 and 11, including 7 in 10 African-American children, are still regularly exposed to secondhand smoke.

Secondhand smoke disproportionately affects African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans. Exposure to secondhand smoke among African-Americans stood at 47 percent in 2012, compared to 74 percent 10 years earlier. But it was still more than twice the number of white American nonsmokers being exposed to secondhand smoke. Among children, the difference was even wider.

Decline in exposure, as indicated in the report, was attributed to statewide laws that were implemented by 26 states across the United States banning smoking in public places. Nevertheless, a third of the American population still lives in areas that allow smoking in bars and some restaurants.

Being a known cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, respiratory infections, ear infections, and asthma attacks in infants and children, secondhand smoke can also cause heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and lung cancer in adult nonsmokers. Previous studies have even linked secondhand smoke to mental and emotional changes. A UK study reported that women exposed to secondhand during pregnancy were at greater risk for symptoms of depression during the pregnancy. In the United States, the costs of extra medical care, illness, and death caused by secondhand are over $10 billion per year.

There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke that contains over 7,000 chemicals, including about 70 that can cause cancer. Each year, secondhand smoke causes more than 41,000 deaths from lung cancer and heart disease among non-smoking adults and 400 deaths from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, as well as about $5.6 billion annually in lost productivity.

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