Even though fewer U.S. teens are smoking, secondhand smoke remains a big problem for them, a government study found.
Nearly half of nonsmoking kids in middle school and high school encountered secondhand tobacco smoke in 2013, and rates were even higher among smokers.
Earlier studies on teens and secondhand smoke in specific places, such as cars or indoors, indicate that the problem has declined in recent years but the new research suggests it’s still affecting millions of kids.
“These findings are concerning because the U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that there is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure,” said lead author Israel Agaku, a researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
Secondhand smoke has been linked with several illnesses in children, including breathing problems, ear infections, bronchitis and pneumonia. In adults, it has been linked with heart disease and lung cancer.
The study results are based on a national survey of more than 17,000 middle school and high school kids. Exposure was defined as being around tobacco smoke at least once within the past week.
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