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Pay attention: New study suggests smoking parents are unaware of how often they expose their kids to secondhand smoke


People may be unaware of being exposed to smoke, and children whose parents do are at risk. A study from Tel Aviv University shows that many smoking parents make false assumptions and have a lack of awareness when it comes to where and when children are exposed to second-hand smoke.

According to lead researcher Dr. Lauren Rosen of TAU’s School of Public Health and Sackler Faculty of Medicine, many parents who smoke believe that they take adequate measures to protect their children from the damages that cigarette smoke can cause. However, the study found that most of these parents are not aware of some of the exposure. The study, published in Nicotine and Tobacco Research, reports that parents believe that if they did not see or smell the smoke, their children were not exposed.

Previous studies show that 85 percent of smoke is invisible, and many components of smoke are odorless. Furthermore, a smoker’s sense of smell is unreliable, since the effects of tobacco and nicotine damage the olfactory system. The study includes 65 parents of young children from smoking households across Israel. Many of the participants believe that smoking beside an open window, on a balcony, in a designated area for smoking, or by ventilating the room after smoking, would not expose a child to smoke. Nonetheless, urine tests from their children found double the level of cotinine, a product of nicotine. The research has also shown that a child exposed to a single cigarette smoked inside a car increased biomarkers 24 hours following the exposure.

Second-hand smoke is accumulative over time, and may cause permanent damage to children’s developing lungs and cardiovascular systems. The researchers indicate that parents and other people, especially individuals who interact or live with children, should be aware of these invisible signs that may seem harmless.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and numerous studies, smoking leads to disease and disability. Smoking tobacco and cigarettes harms almost all of the organs in the body, causing cancer, heart diseases, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It also increases the risk of tuberculosis, eye diseases, erectile dysfunction, and problems in the immune system including rheumatoid arthritis. Based on the studies, almost 16 million Americans live with diseases caused by smoking and second-hand smoke.

Statistics on smoking

Almost 3,200 individuals in the country below 18 years old smoke their first cigarette, and approximately 2,100 youth and young adults who have occasionally smoked become daily cigarette smokers. Reasons for starting to smoke cigarettes include social pressure and changes in adolescents’ contemplation about smoking. On the contrary, nearly seven out of 10 adults who smoke cigarettes want to stop smoking, where more than five have made attempts of quitting in 2014. On a worldwide scale, tobacco use causes nearly six million deaths each year, and estimates show that it may cause more than eight million deaths by 2030. Annually, one out of five deaths in the United States is related to smoking or second-hand smoke exposure.

There are one too many reasons for beginning to smoke, and many more reasons why people continue to do so. No matter what the stories behind smoking may be, it is essential to quit this bad habit to minimize its effects on oneself and on others as well. There are many ways to do so, and many countries have government-run operations that help individuals kick the habit and address it before its negative consequences take hold.

Sources include:

ScienceDaily.com

CDC.gov

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