Secondhand Smoke and Children Fact Sheet

Secondhand smoke is a mixture of the smoke given off by the burning end of a cigarette, pipe or cigar and the smoke exhaled from the lungs of smokers. Secondhand smoke is estimated to cause 3,000 lung cancer deaths annually and 35,000 heart disease deaths in non-smokers each year.

Children are especially susceptible: their lungs are still developing and childhood exposure to secondhand smoke results in decreased lung function. Children who breathe secondhand smoke are more likely to develop asthma, the leading serious chronic childhood disease in the US .

  • In the U.S. , 43 percent of children are exposed to second-hand smoke in their own homes and 85 percent of children have detectable levels of cotinine in their blood.
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke increases the severity and frequency of asthma episodes; 200,000 to 1,000,000 asthmatic children with asthma have experienced aggravated symptoms.
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke causes 150,000 to 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections (pneumonia and bronchitis) annually in children 18 months and younger; these infections result in 7,500 to 15,000 hospitalizations each year.
  • Secondhand smoke exposure causes buildup of fluid in the middle ear, resulting in 700,000 to 1.6 million physician office visits. Middle ear infections are the most common cause of childhood operations and of childhood hearing loss.
  • A California EPA study estimated 1,900 to 2,700 sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) deaths annually associated with secondhand smoke exposure.

This article was published by Lung.org, copyright 2013. It can be accessed online at the following link.

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