Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke exposure. Most children cannot decide where they live, eat and play, and many are not able to escape smoke-filled environments. Every day, more than 15 million kids are exposed to secondhand smoke at home, with countless others exposed to secondhand smoke in schools and other places, as well.(1)
Exposure to secondhand smoke increases the chances that children will suffer from smoke-caused coughs and wheezing, bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, potentially fatal lower respiratory tract infections, or eye and ear problems. Each year, 280 children actually die from respiratory illness caused by secondhand smoke.(2)
Secondhand smoke can cause low birth weight and an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).(3)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 300,000 children under 1-1/2 years of age get bronchitis or pneumonia from breathing secondhand tobacco smoke; resulting is as many as 15,000 hospitalizations.(4)
According to a 1997 study in the Journal of Pediatrics, exposure to secondhand smoke leads to over 500,000 physician visits for asthma.(5)
Children exposed to secondhand smoke have a dramatic increase of middle ear infections, the most common cause of hospitalization of children for an operation.(6)
The EPA attributes up to 26,000 new cases of childhood asthma each year to secondhand smoke.(7)
(1) CDC, “State-Specific Prevalence of Cigarette Smoking Among Adults, and Children’s and Adolescents’ Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke – United States 1996,” MMWR 46(44): 1038-1043 (November 7, 1997).
(2) See, e.g., Li, J.S. et al, “Meta-Analysis on the Association Between Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) Exposure and the Prevalence of Lower Respiratory Tract Infection in Early Childhood,” Pediatric Pulmonology 27(1): 5-13 (January 1999); DiFranza, J.R. & R.A. Lew, “Morbidity & Mortality in Children Associated with the Use of Tobacco Products By Other People,” Pediatrics 97(4): 560-68 (April 1997); Adair-Bischoff, C.E. & R.S. Sauve, “Environmental Tobacco Smoke and Middle Ear Disease in Preschool- Age Children,” Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 52(2): 127-33 (February 1999); American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Environmental Health, “Environmental Tobacco Smoke: A Hazard to Children,” Pediatrics 99(4): 639-42 (April 1997); Mannino, D.M., et al., “Environmental Tobacco Smoke Exposure and Health Effects in Children,” Tobacco Control 5(1): 13-18 (Spring 1996); Anderson H.R. & D.G. Cook, “Passive Smoking and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Review of the Epidemiological Evidence.
(3) California/EPA Joint Study, “Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke and Cotinine Levels,” Chemical Dependency Center, 1997.
(4) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Setting the Record Straight: Secondhand Smoke is a Preventable Health Risk,” EPA-402-F-94-005, June, 1994.
(5) DeFranza, J.R. & Lew, R.A. “Morbidity & Mortality in Children Associated with the Use of Tobacco by Other People,” Pediatrics 97(4): 560-68, April, 1997.
(6) Environmental Protection Agency. “Respiratory Health Effects of Passive Smoking: Lung Cancer and Other Disorders,” December, 1992.
(7) Environmental Protection Agency. “Respiratory Health Effects of Passive Smoking: Lung Cancer and Other Disorders,” December, 1992.