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Affects Of Secondhand Smoke Highest In Blacks

WASHINGTON - Despite the known dangers of tobacco use, 1 in 5 American adults
continues to smoke cigarettes, and 4 in 10 nonsmokers were exposed to
cigarette smoke during 2007-2008, according to reports from the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention. Among children between the ages of 3
and 11 years old, 54 percent were exposed to secondhand smoke. Nearly
all (98 percent) of children who live with a smoker are exposed and have
measureable levels of toxic chemicals from cigarette smoke.

According to the report, the number of adult smokers dropped between
2000 and 2005, but smoking has remained at 20 percent since 2005. In
2009, more men (nearly 24 percent) than women (about 18 percent) smoked
and about 31 percent of those living below poverty level smoked. Less
than 6 percent of adults with a graduate degree smoke compared to more
than 25 percent of adults with no high school diploma. Further, nearly
90 million non-smoking Americans are exposed to secondhand smoke and
have measurable levels of toxic chemicals from cigarette smoke. Black
non-smokers are one-third more likely than white smokers, and twice as
likely as Mexican-American smokers, to have measurable exposure to
tobacco. 

"Smoking is still the leading preventable cause of death in this
country," said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. "But
progress is possible. Strong state laws that protect nonsmokers from
secondhand smoke, higher cigarette prices, aggressive ad campaigns that
show the human impact of smoking and well-funded tobacco control
programs decrease the number of adult smokers and save lives. 

In 2009, smoking among adults was lowest in Utah, followed by
California. California has had a long-running comprehensive tobacco
control program. Adult smoking in California declined by about 40
percent during 1998-2006, and as a result lung cancer in California has
been declining four times faster than in the rest of the nation. Maine,
New York, and Washington have seen 45-60 percent reductions in youth
smoking with sustained statewide efforts. If each state supported
comprehensive tobacco control programs for 5 years with CDC recommended
levels of funding, an estimated 5 million fewer persons in the country
would smoke, resulting in prevention of premature tobacco-related
deaths.

The federal government is intensifying its efforts to reduce tobacco use
in order to achieve the tobacco use targets in Healthy People 2010 and
Healthy People 2020. The 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco
Control Act gives the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate
the manufacturing, marketing, and distribution of tobacco products and
has provided new opportunities to reduce tobacco use. 

In addition, the Communities Putting Prevention to Work program provides
guidance and funding for states and communities to change policies to
prevent tobacco use and protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke. The
latter is especially important given that more than half of young
children are exposed to secondhand smoke. Children whose parents smoke
are twice as likely to smoke themselves, but children who grow up in
communities with comprehensive smoke-free laws are much less likely to
become smokers.

Smoking causes cancers of the lung, mouth, stomach, pancreas, kidney,
colon, cervix, bladder and leukemia, as well as heart attacks, stroke,
blindness, pneumonia, emphysema and other lung diseases, and many other
health problems. Exposure to secondhand smoke causes sudden infant death
syndrome and low birth weight, acute respiratory infections, middle ear
disease, exacerbated asthma, respiratory symptoms, and decreased lung
function in children. It also causes heart disease and lung cancer in
nonsmoking adults. 



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