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Kids Strapped in for Secondhand Smoke

A local mom talks about seeing children buckled into a car as the driver smoked.

I don’t know how other people feel about taking two boys under the age of 3 to the grocery store, but I can tell you I avoided it at all cost. However, on one particular day, I had no choice but to brave the store with my boys.

While shopping I noticed another mom with two small children about the same age as my boys. We passed each other a few times around the store and I could tell she was struggling keeping her kids contained, as was I. As I was checking out I passed her one more time, we smiled at each other and had an unspoken mom moment of, “We can get through this.”

After I got my groceries loaded and kids buckled into their car seat, I noticed this mom one more time pulling out of the parking lot, but I was sad to see her two kids buckled in the back seat of the car and a cigarette in her hand.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “88 million nonsmoking Americans, including 54 percent of children aged 3–11 years, are exposed to secondhand smoke. Even brief exposure can be dangerous because nonsmokers inhale many of the same poisons in cigarette smoke as smokers.”

In addition, the CDC reports that an estimated 443,000 deaths each year are caused by cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke. Even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can have negative health effects because the nonsmokers are still exposed to harmful chemicals and pollutants.

U.S. Surgeon General reports have stated that secondhand smoke has negative health implications and that smoking and tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death in the United States. The following findings are from Surgeon General reports in regards to secondhand smoke exposure:

  • SHS causes disease in children and in adults who don’t smoke.
  • Exposure to SHS while pregnant increases the chance that a woman will have a spontaneous abortion, still-born birth, low-birth-weight baby, and other pregnancy and delivery problems.
  • There is no safe level of exposure to SHS. Any exposure is harmful.
  • On average, children are exposed to more SHS than non-smoking adults.
  • Smoking by parents can cause wheezing, coughing, bronchitis, pneumonia and slow lung growth in their children.

After reading this list, my thoughts keep going back to those two little kids buckled into their seatbelts with no choice at all but to be exposed to their mother’s secondhand smoke. California law prohibits smoking in cars with minors.

My intention in writing this article is not to bash smokers, but to act as a reminder that smoking not only impacts your health, but the health of everyone around you. For those smokers who make a conscious effort to smoke in designated areas and avoid smoking around children, your efforts are very much appreciated.

john davidson October 07, 2012 at 05:16 AM
The inconvenient truth is that the only studies of children of smokers suggest it is PROTECTIVE in contracting atopy in the first place. The New Zealand study says by a staggering factor of 82%. “Participants with atopic parents were also less likely to have positive SPTs between ages 13 and 32 years if they smoked themselves (OR=0.18), and this reduction in risk remained significant after adjusting for confounders. The authors write: “We found that children who were exposed to parental smoking and those who took up cigarette smoking themselves had a lower incidence of atopy to a range of common inhaled allergens. “These associations were found only in those with a parental history of asthma or hay fever.” They conclude: Our findings suggest that preventing allergic sensitization is not one of them.” The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Volume 121, Issue 1 , Pages 38-42.e3, January 2008 http://www.jacionline.org/article/S00...(07)01954-9/abstract
john davidson October 07, 2012 at 05:16 AM
This is a Swedish study. “Children of mothers who smoked at least 15 cigarettes a day tended to have lower odds for suffering from allergic rhino-conjunctivitis, allergic asthma, atopic eczema and food allergy, compared to children of mothers who had never smoked (ORs 0.6-0.7) CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates an association between current exposure to tobacco smoke and a low risk for atopic disorders in smokers themselves and a similar tendency in their children.” Clin Exp Allergy 2001 Jun;31(6):908-14 http://www.data-yard.net/30/asthma.htm ...
john davidson October 07, 2012 at 05:17 AM
Here's my all-time favorite "scientific" study of the the anti-smoking campaign: "Lies, Damned Lies, & 400,000 Smoking-Related Deaths," Robert A. Levy and Rosalind B. Marimont, Journal of Regulation, Vol. 21 (4), 1998. You can access the article for free on the Cato Institute's wesbite, Cato.org. This article neither defends nor promotes smoking. Rather it condemns the abuse of statistics to misinform and scare the public. Levy, by the way taught Statistics for Lawyers at Georgetown University Law School. There is also a popular law school class called How to Lie With Statistics. You might also find this study of interest. It examines carcinogens in cigarette smoke and finds them insufficient to be a cause of cancer. Last sentence is the key one: there is little reason to be confident that total removal of the currently measured human lung carcinogens would reduce the incidence of lung cancer among smokers by any noticeable amount. http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/16/3/584.abstract

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