Health experts urge U.S. leaders to protect children from secondhand smoke
According to the research, African-American children are exposed to significantly more secondhand cigarette smoke than other demographics. All of the exposed children showed serious, lifelong cardiovascular problems, respiratory issues and other health concerns from the secondhand smoke.
The statement encourages policy advocates and parents to have a “zero tolerance” approach when it comes to secondhand cigarette smoke.
“Parents should consider making their children’s environment smoke-free because cigarette smoke exposure is harmful to children’s long-term heart health and may shorten life expectancy,” Dr. Geetha Raghuveer, pediatric cardiologist and chair of the AHA expert panel behind the statement, said. “Children exposed to cigarette smoke may develop early heart disease as adults due to poorly functioning, stiffer blood vessels. Some babies who were exposed to cigarette smoke while still in the womb may be at risk for sudden death during infancy.”
Secondhand smoke is connected to high cholesterol, obesity, insulin resistance that eventually causes diabetes, greater chances of smoking and other health concerns.
“Encouraging adults to quit smoking is a cost-effective and health-enhancing strategy that could benefit both adults and children,” Raghuveer said. “Raising cigarette taxes to discourage smoking could also decrease childhood exposure.”