Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Harm of Secondhand Smoke

The World Health Organization has this interesting report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic. Here are the 10 facts they list about the tobacco epidemic:

Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the world. It causes 1 in 10 deaths among adults worldwide. In 2005, tobacco caused 5.4 million deaths, or an average of one death every 6 seconds. At the current rate, the death toll is projected to reach more than 8 million annually by 2030 and a total of up to one billion deaths in the 21st century.

Second-hand tobacco smoke is dangerous to health. It causes cancer, heart disease and many other serious diseases in adults. Almost half of the world's children breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke, which worsens their asthma conditions and causes dangerous diseases. At least 200 000 workers die every year due to exposure to second-hand smoke at work.

And the latest issue of the American Journal of Public Health has a Research and Practice study on the effects of secondhand smoke by Heather Wipfli et. al. Here is the abstract:

Secondhand Smoke Exposure Among Women and Children: Evidence From 31 Countries By Heather Wipfli et. al

Objectives. We sought to describe the range of exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) among women and children living with smokers around the world and generate locally relevant data to motivate the development of tobacco control policies and interventions in developing countries.

Methods. In 2006, we conducted a cross-sectional exposure survey to measure air nicotine concentrations in households and hair nicotine concentrations among nonsmoking women and children in convenience samples of 40 households in 31 countries.

Results. Median air nicotine concentration was 17 times higher in households with smokers (0.18 µg/m3) compared with households without smokers (0.01 µg/m3). Air nicotine and hair nicotine concentrations in women and children increased with the number of smokers in the household. The dose–response relationship was steeper among children. Air nicotine concentrations increased an estimated 12.9 times (95% confidence interval=9.4, 17.6) in households allowing smoking inside compared with those prohibiting smoking inside.

Conclusions. Our results indicate that women and children living with smokers are at increased risk of premature death and disease from exposure to SHS. Interventions to protect women and children from household SHS need to be strengthened.

It's tragic that smokers not only endanger their own lives by continuing to smoke, but they also endanger the health prospects of their loved ones.