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September 7th, 2010
04:35 PM ET

Secondhand smoke exposure 'striking' in the U.S.

More than half of U.S. children between ages 3 and 11 show signs in their blood of exposure to secondhand smoke, according to a report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which examined blood samples from more than 1,300 children.

These children are more prone to pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma, and decreased lung function, according to the CDC report.  It also finds that 40 percent of nonsmoking adults have cotinine in their blood, a chemical that indicates exposure to secondhand smoke. For the most part, children are exposed to secondhand smoke in their own homes, the CDC said.

“After all these decades, and all the attention to this problem, to have almost 90 million Americans exposed to secondhand stroke is really striking,” said Terry Pechacek, the associate director for science at the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health.

While smoking rates declined from 2000 to 2005, rates have not changed much since then, and today 20 percent of Americans smoke.

In 1996, the federal government set a goal to have a 12 percent smoking rate by 2010.

Michael Eriksen, who was director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health at the time, says there are several reasons this goal wasn’t met.

“There’s no federal clean air act, and the Food and Drug Administration only recently started regulating cigarette sales very recently,” he says. “There are things we could have done at the federal level for a decade that we didn’t utilize.”

Some states with strong anti-smoking laws, such as California, have seen a decline in smoking rates. The American Lung Association has a state-by-state list of anti-smoking laws.

Pechacek says the tobacco industry has employed successful sales tactics, such as direct-mail advertising, while fewer dollars have been spent to combat smoking because of the recession.

“We’re losing money to do the things we know work,” he says. “Every year we miss the opportunity to help people quit smoking.”


soundoff (144 Responses)
  1. Here'sjohnny

    Its interesting that there is all this fuss about banning smoking because its bad for you and those around you. What about alcohol. It leads to live cirrhosis, cancers of many sort, and drunk driving is still a problem. Why no talk about banning alcohol? Furthermore, Americans are getting fatter by the second. Being obese causes heart disease, cancer, diabetes. No one is talking about a potato chip ban.This is America, a free country, i'll smoke, you drink, and you be fat.

    September 8, 2010 at 15:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. sadwife

    Oh i don't know maybe because we are sticking to the topic of the story?

    September 8, 2010 at 16:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. RigidPrinciples

    It would be interesting to see a study on how quickly it takes these non-smokers to get addicted to smoking environments. Many times these non-smokers are in denial about their addiction to smoking environments, but if you frequent any smoking bar, you can see that many non-smokers, who in their minds do not like smoke, seem to be physically addicted to the smoking environment. Maybe if non-smokers wore a nicotine patch, this would prevent them from frequenting smoking environments ?

    September 8, 2010 at 16:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. boocat

    To make a blanket statement that smoking is dangerous to all humans is just stupid. The Japanese are known for being heavy smokers and they have longer life spans on average. I have never heard of anyone dying or getting cancer from "second hand smoke."

    September 8, 2010 at 16:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. dog101

    Why is it that people try to justify a bad habit by saying, but oh drinking gasoline is worse than smoking !! Or whatever..Thats like saying my uncle smokes 4 packs a day and i only smoke 3 so im ok right?? Its rude smokers that brought this on themselves! I wear gloves when I pick up buts in my yard , cause i live on a busy road.. yuk! I was in the army and you never ever throw a but on the ground..disgusting to say the least..Think about it smokers when its raining and have to go outside when you want a cancer stick!!

    September 8, 2010 at 17:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. JJ Shive

    "There needs to be a federal smoking ban in bars. There are far too many non-smokers who are addicted to these smoking bars, and the only way to help the non-smokers from themselves is to ban smoking in bars."

    Some people just aint got a clue. If they are addicted to bars, there is a little program, which is free, known as AA, that will work for that.

    September 8, 2010 at 21:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • RigidPrinciples

      Maybe if you had a smoking bar, you could have armed guards that would shoot on sight any non-smoker that tried to enter ?

      September 9, 2010 at 20:20 | Report abuse |
  7. Scott

    Smokers pay more than their fair share in taxes, etc. We should be able to smoke wherever we please. The who second hand stuff is a crock. I think I hate non smokers worse than they hate me, and they have made it that way.

    September 9, 2010 at 07:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Proudtosmoke

    Wow. Non-smokers need a hobby, it seems like all you do is complain. You complain that when smokers get diseases that it will suck up public health funds and this and that, but you'll notice that not too many people die of old age anymore. Many are taken by some form of cancer, disease, stroke, etc. Open your eyes and you'll find we are all sprinting towards to the grave– enjoy your short time that you've been given. Stressing out over what other people do should be the least of your problems. If you don't like the smoke, don't leave your house and god forbid stay away from the stove. Leave the smokers alone. We've made our choices. The legal system of this country deems it lawfully acceptable for adults to smoke. So we do. Tobacco is America's oldest institution. To close with unsolicited advice: don't knock it before you try it.

    September 10, 2010 at 18:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Immortal Irving

    Gotta say I smell a rat in all the bandwagon jumping that piles onto the second hand smoke wagon. The science is not alarming for incidental exposure (as opposed to chronic heavy exposure like bartenders or waitresses in unventilated smoky spaces for years). As for asthma rates, look around at urban environments and the legion of complex large molecule man-made chemical compounds in building materials, fabrics, cleaners, solvents, pesticides, food additives and preservatives. Man has been sitting around campfires breathing in organic smoke since the dawn of history.

    The argument about public health costs is flawed – everybody dies of something and the bulk of health care costs is spent in the final years of life and elder care. Some scrupulously healthy person who develops senile dementia and then lives for decades in care will eat up far more health care dollars then some slob who lives on french fries and cigarettes and drops off in quick order.

    The United States was founded on the concept of personal freedom. Smokers are the canary in the coal mine when psuedo-science and outright lies are used to take away liberties. Persecute the smokers, persecute yourself in the end.

    September 10, 2010 at 19:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. PipeCat

    As a pipe smoker, I believe there should be places for non smokers to have smoke free activities. Having said that, I believe the same is true for those of us who enjoy tobacco products. The places smokers can congregate and enjoy each others company as well as common hobby has shrunk to almost nothing. I recall when smokers could smoke anywhere; in airplanes, restaurants, bars, etc... The way smokers are treated now are exactly like how minorities were treated before the days of civil rights. Well, as a smoker, I am standing up and saying, 'I want my civil rights!' One of the things that made this country strong was our right to live free. Many of our founding fathers grew tobacco. How many liberties we have lost since those principals were inscribed in history?

    September 10, 2010 at 19:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Frank

      Oh, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

      September 10, 2010 at 19:56 | Report abuse |
    • Immortal Irving

      This is all sideshow stuff compared to the sell-out of the average American family economics. The deeply mistaken policies of Alan Greenspan and the Fed since the tech bust in 2000 have literally sold middle-class aspirations down the river. Get ready to live on much less, and find an angry public leaping from one staged sideshow to another. Remind you of anything? Like Germany ... say about 1930?

      September 11, 2010 at 13:51 | Report abuse |
  11. Jim

    The whole "second-hand smoke" theory is hokem. Pure Bullsh-t.

    Your chances of getting a whiff of sombody else's smoke has been dropping for years. But asthma rates are UP. Second-hand smoke does not cause asthma. Studies show that children exposed to second hand smoke have a LOWER probability of contracting lung cancer than unexposed children.

    September 15, 2010 at 18:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. fronco

    These smoking freaks will not stop with there lies,they destroyed restarants and bars and now there out to destroy a city.

    September 17, 2010 at 06:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. fronco

    ASTHMA i have it and i smoke, all my kids have it and they all smoke,every time people go to these freak doctors they all have ASTHMA. but no one is investigeting these doctors. how can you have ASTHMA and live in a city with so many cars and not take medication.

    September 17, 2010 at 06:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Raulek

    Jim, second hand smoke is terrible. I've recently realized that there are over 4000 compounds in the smoke. Why should non-smokers inhale that? Tobacco itself has loads of additives that when are burnt create thousands of new toxic stuff. I've started a blog in which I go thru each additive http://www.smokeblows.com, it reminds me why I should never light up again a cigarette 😉

    September 25, 2010 at 07:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. william

    As a non smoker I think that all this is excessive regulation. Where I live one cannot smoke even in a club such as the Elks. So instead of assisting business to improve ventilation smoking is outlawed. Now one has to walk through concentrated smoke around entrances allowing a concentrated dose of something that no one can PROVE causes harm. Typical of a facist form of government.

    October 20, 2010 at 16:29 | Report abuse | Reply
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