Cigarette smoking is one of the leading preventable causes of death in the United States. It is estimated that about one out of every five deaths in the US occur due to smoking. Secondhand smoke (also known as environmental tobacco smoke or passive smoking) refers to unplanned inhalation of tobacco smoke by other people, apart from the active smoker. Secondhand smoke can seriously affect the cardiovascular system and cause strokes. Reports suggest that non-smokers who get regularly exposed to second-hand smoke at home or work place increase their risk of developing lung cancer by 20-30 percent. In addition, this can lead to middle ear disorder, acute respiratory infections, delayed lung growth and exacerbations of asthma symptoms.
A new study reports that many teens who are non-smokers are being exposed to the health dangers of tobacco. The study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, is the first ever to analyze this issue on a global scale.
The researchers analyzed more than 350,000 teenagers in 168 countries and collected data from the Global Youth Tobacco Survey. They evaluated the rates of secondhand exposure both inside and outside teens’ homes. They also analyzed the pivotal role of parental/peer smoking, attitudes towards smoking bans, knowledge about the potential effects of secondhand exposure, and other related factors.
It was found that about one third of teens are being exposed to second-hand smoke inside the home and more than two-fifths of those teens are exposed to second-hand smoke outside the home. The key findings of ths study include
- About 90% of teens (who have never used cigarette or tobacco) are aware about the side effects of second hand exposure.
- More than 79% teens support smoking bans in public places as they get exposed to higher rates of passive smoke. This implies that even though these teens are quite aware about the potential side effects associated secondary smoke, they are not always being able to avoid these environments.
- The odds of secondhand exposure for never-smoking teens exposed to people (both parents and peers) who smoke is 23 times higher than that of teens who don’t have smokers around them.
The study findings emphasize the need for public health professionals to understand the importance of promoting a smoke-free environment in places frequented by teens. It is important to educate the parents about the value of promoting a smoke-free home environment. Parents, especially those who are chain smokers, could enroll in smoking cessation programs offered by reliable multi-specialty healthcare centers to save themselves and their children from the risk of tobacco-induced chronic diseases.