-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
THURSDAY, May 16 (HealthDay News) -- Drop by for a visit or
share the drive -- but please, no smoking.
That's the message the vast majority of Americans send to the
smokers within their social circle, a new study finds.
Four out of five adults now have smoke-free rules in their
homes, while about three out of four have enacted the same ban in
their cars, according to the national survey from the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention.
Getting tough on smoking is always a good idea, experts say.
"We have made tremendous progress in the last 15 years protecting people in public spaces from secondhand smoke," Dr. Tim McAfee, director of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health, said in an agency news release. "The good news is that people are applying the same protection in their homes and vehicles."
Whether or not you've banned smoking inside the home seems to
depend on your smoking status, the CDC study found. While 89
percent of non-smokers say they have a smoke-free policy at home,
only 48 percent of smokers have a similar rule. When it comes to
cars or other vehicles, 85 percent of non-smokers do not allow
smoking, compared to just 27 percent of smokers, the research
Many people may be taking their cue from local legislation, the
CDC said. The agency noted that most of the people who've
established their own smoke-free rules live in states with
longstanding tobacco-control programs and comprehensive smoking
Nevertheless, there's more work to be done, McAfee said.
"Millions of non-smokers, many of whom are children, remain exposed
to secondhand smoke in these environments," he said.
According to the CDC, nearly 11 million non-smokers remain
exposed to secondhand smoke at home and almost 17 million
non-smokers are exposed in cars.
The non-smokers most affected by secondhand smoke are men,
younger adults, blacks and those with less education. States with
the fewest smoking bans or tobacco-control programs had the most
adult smokers, the study found.
The danger to nonsmokers' health from stray cigarette smoke is
real. Adults exposed to secondhand smoke can develop heart disease
and lung cancer, the CDC said. For children, secondhand smoke
increases the risk for more severe and frequent asthma attacks,
acute respiratory infections, ear infections and sudden infant
death syndrome (SIDS), the agency said.
Exposure to secondhand smoke claims the lives of an estimated
50,000 people in the United States each year. Because of that, the
U.S. Surgeon General advises 100 percent smoke-free policies that
protect non-smokers from secondhand smoke.
"While almost half of all U.S. residents are protected by 100 percent smoke-free policies in worksites, restaurants and bars, overall there are still an estimated 88 million non-smoking Americans over the age of 3 who are exposed to secondhand smoke," study lead author Brian King, an epidemiologist in the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health, said in the news release. "It's important to educate people on the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure and how smoke-free homes and vehicles can reduce that exposure."
The study appears in the May issue of the CDC journal
Preventing Chronic Disease.
The American Cancer Society provides more information on
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