Kids and Thirdhand Smoke


CINCINNATI, Ohio. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— According to the CDC, cigarette smoking among American adults has hit an all-time low. Experts say that’s the good news. Still, about 14 percent of all adults light up. That’s an estimated 34 million people over the age 18. Now, newly published research shows how exposure to adults’ tobacco smoke is taking a high toll on kids’ health and the healthcare system, thirdhand smoke.

For decades, health experts have warned about the dangers of smoking. While the number of adults lighting up has gone down, experts say about four in ten children are exposed to secondhand and even thirdhand smoke.

Ashley Merianos, Ph.D., a health services researcher at University of Cincinnati told Ivanhoe, “Secondhand smoke is when you’re inhaling cigarette smoke from a lit tobacco product. And thirdhand smoke is the residue that remains in the environment well after the cigarette smoking has ceased.”

(Read Full Interview)

Merianos said when kids inhale, swallow or touch objects that contain thirdhand smoke, they are at higher risk of asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia. Merianos and her colleagues found that smoke exposed children had nearly twice the risk of being admitted to the hospital over a one-year period. And higher rates of ER visits, all coming at a cost.

“We found that children exposed to tobacco smoke had an average of almost $120 more per each pediatric emergency department visit compared to unexposed children who do not live with a smoker,” detailed Merianos.

Merianos said the research also suggests the need for additional smoke exposure intervention programs ensuring that adults who want to quit smoking are supported. She said for every 100 adults who try to quit, only seven are successful. Merianos also said it’s important they have the resources to rid their homes of thirdhand smoke residue.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer and Field Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; and Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT:       MB #4993

BACKGROUND: Cigarette smoking during childhood and adolescence causes significant health problems among young people, including an increase in the number and severity of respiratory illnesses, decreased physical fitness and potential effects on lung growth and function. Among adults who have ever smoked daily, 87% tried their first cigarette by the time they were 18 years of age, and 95% had by age 21.  Every day, almost 2,500 children under 18 years of age try their first cigarette, and more than 400 of them will become new, regular daily smokers. Half of them will ultimately die from their habit. People who start smoking at an early age are more likely to develop a severe addiction to nicotine than those who start at a later age. Of adolescents who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime, most of them report that they would like to quit but are not able to do so. If current tobacco use patterns persist, an estimated 5.6 million of today’s youth under age 18 eventually will die prematurely from a smoking-related disease.


DIAGNOSING: Smoking and tobacco use can harm a person’s system and lead to long-term health problems such as heart disease, lung disease, stroke, and many types of cancers including lung, throat, stomach, and bladder cancer. People who smoke can also get infections, like pneumonia, ulcers, gum disease, and eye disease. Smoking is linked to diabetes, joint problems and skin problems. It can also make bones weaker and easier to break. Tobacco and other chemicals also can affect the body quickly. Their effects on the heart and lungs make it harder to do well in sports. They also irritate the throat, cause bad breath, and damage the airways, leading to the well-known smoker’s cough. Many studies show that young smokers are more likely to try marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or other drugs.


NEW RESEARCH: A study released from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that more than 2 million U.S. middle and high school students reported currently using e-cigarettes in 2021, with more than 8 in 10 of those youth using flavored e-cigarettes. The report, published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, was based on data from the 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), a cross-sectional, self-administered survey of U.S. middle (grades 6–8) and high (grades 9–12) school students. The study assessed current (used on one or more of the past 30 days) e-cigarette use; frequency of use; and use by device type, flavors and usual brand. The data highlighted that flavored e-cigarette are still extremely popular with kids. It also showed that a quarter of high school students who use e-cigarettes say they do it every single day.




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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Ashley Merianos, Ph.D., a health services researcher

Read the entire Q&A