Despite official reports that show teens are less likely to take up smoking as they have e-cigarettes at hand, a recent government research shows that nearly half the nation’s underage non-smokers are still exposed to secondhand smoking.
The research revealed that more than 45 percent of middle schoolers and high school students reported that they were exposed to secondhand smoke in 2013. Additionally, kids that smoked were even more exposed to secondhand smoke, the study suggests.
Past studies, however, showed that the problem somehow declined in recent years with the proliferation of smoke-free public spaces and awareness campaigns. Fewer teens have reported that they were exposed to secondhand smoke in vehicles and buildings, but the recent study shows that secondhand tobacco smoke is still a problem for million of kids in the U.S.
Israel Agaku, senior researcher involved in the study and investigator at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, noted that recent guidelines stated clearly that exposure to secondhand smoke does not have a safe level.
The exposure has often been associated with breathing problems, respiratory diseases and ear infections especially in children, and cardiovascular diseases and lung cancers in grown-ups.
The recent research involved 17,000 kids and adolescents who were asked whether they have been around a smoker while he or she smoked at least once a week. About 25 percent of kids who did not smoke said that they were exposed to tobacco smoke on a daily basis. Children said that they were exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes, schools, and vehicles.
The research paper, which was published Jan. 11 in the journal Pediatrics, also revealed that smoking rates in U.S. kids dropped significantly in the past years. Currently, just 9 percent of high school students smoke. More than two dozen states have anti-smoke laws for public space and workplaces. Plus, about 80 percent of U.S. households reported that they have strict no-smoke rules for indoors.
CDC researchers believe that exposure to second-hand smoke could be alleviated if smoke-free zones would be expanded even more.
Other studies showed that 90 percent of adult smokers took up the habit before they were 19 years old. Additionally, 30 percent of teens who embraced the habit are likely to continue smoking through adulthood and die early because of a tobacco-related condition. Smoking in teens has often been associated with increased risk of depression, panic attacks and anxiety, which compel teens to smoke even more to alleviate symptoms.
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