Secondhand smoke exposure rate declines, according to CDC

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smokeThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on Tuesday stating that American nonsmokers exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) has declined by half since 2000. One in four nonsmokers (58 million people) were exposed to SHS smoke in 2011-2012, compared to 1 in 2 nonsmokers in 1999-2000.

SHS is still heavily affecting children aged 3 to 11 years, with 2 in 5 children exposed. Although SHS smoke exposure declined among all population groups, it was found to be particularly high among non-Hispanic blacks (almost 47 percent exposed) and persons living below the poverty level (over 43 percent).

The CDC researchers credited several factors for the decline in exposure. According to the report, almost 700 towns and cities have implemented smoking laws, such as prohibiting smoking in offices and restaurants, in the past 25 years. Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia have also banned smoking in public places. An increase in the number of households adopting voluntary smoke-free rules was also credited in the report, as was the overall decline in smoking prevalence (the fraction of adults smoking is much lower now than it was in 2000).

However, the report also stated that one reason for such a high percentage of children (over 40 percent) being exposed to SHS smoke might be because of the recent slowing in the decline in adult smoking prevalence and the persistence of smoking in homes, as the home is the primary source of exposure for children.

In conclusion, the report stated that despite the progress, a significant number of people are still being exposed to SHS, which according to the CDC causes more than 41,000 deaths among nonsmoking adults and 400 deaths in infants each year. The researchers called for continued implementation of smoke-free laws in indoor public places, along with promoting voluntary smoke-free rules in the home.

ACSH s Dr. Gil Ross had this comment: The evidence linking SHS to chronic illnesses in adults is flimsy at best. Several studies of cohabiting couples discordant for smoking have failed to show evidence of neither heart disease, nor SHS-induced lung (or other) cancer. While the evidence for SHS s adverse effects on the health of children and those already chronically ill has been clearly shown, the alleged lung cancer-SHS link is not proven by any stretch.