Passive smoking: An active threat to children

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Further evidence that, even if you can t quit smoking, you should try your damnedest not to smoke around your kids: A new study has found that children exposed to second-hand smoke had almost double the risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as adults, compared to those who were not exposed.

The findings come from a Norwegian study just published in the journal Respirology. At a university hospital in Bergen, Norway, researchers examined 433 adult patients with COPD and 325 adult patients without the disease. After assessing the patients risk factors for COPD and analyzing by gender, the researchers found that being exposed to passive (second-hand) smoke in childhood resulted in an almost twofold greater risk of COPD in women and an approximately 60 percent increased risk in men. Furthermore, passive exposure to smoke in childhood was, overall, a much stronger risk factor for COPD and COPD-related symptoms than passive smoke exposure as an adult.

COPD is one of the leading causes of death and morbidity in the U.S., and it s almost always caused by smoking. While this study cannot determine cause and effect, the data are fairly strong for a retrospective analysis. The researchers note that the results indicate that factors affecting early-life development of lung function [have] important long-term consequences for adult life.

ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross agrees that the study results should be taken seriously. The results remind him of an important and enduring ACSH publication, The Irreversible Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking. Take a look, especially if you need to convince someone of the undesirable long-term effects that smoking can have on them and their loved ones.