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11:38 AM

AHA to Parents: Protect Your Kids From Secondhand Smoke

An estimated 24 million children and teens in the United States are routinely exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke, and the American Heart Association (AHA) is calling on parents and health policy makers to take a "zero tolerance" approach to such exposures.

Citing extensive research published in the two decades since the AHA last weighed in on secondhand tobacco smoke exposure among children, the newly published scientific statement noted that there is now strong evidence linking exposure to side stream and other secondhand tobacco smoke to an increased risk for cardiovascular disease later in life.

Minority children and children living in poverty have some of the highest exposures, with 68% of African American preteen children being exposed in a recent CDC analysis, compared with 37% and 30%, respectively, of non-Hispanic white and Hispanic children.

"The evidence calls for a robust public health policy that embraces zero tolerance of childhood secondhand smoke exposure," writing committee chair Geetha Raghuveer, MD, of Children's Mercy Kansas City and colleagues, wrote in the AHA journal Circulation, published online Sept. 12.

In an interview with MedPage Today, Raghuveer said significant reductions in childhood secondhand smoke exposures have occurred in the half century since the publication of the first U.S. Surgeon General warning detailing the harmful effects of cigarette smoking.

But she added that exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke remains high among children, especially those living in poverty.

"With this scientific statement we hope to increase awareness among pediatricians and other providers and policy makers about the risk of secondhand smoke exposure that continues to be prevalent in children and the life-long cardiovascular consequences," she said.


Read the full story via MedPage Today.

Learn more about The Ward Family Heart Center at Children's Mercy.