Passive Smoking – Still A Real Danger to Children says W.H.O.

December 7, 2010

Smoking is now so restricted, you would think the issue of passive smoking had gone away – but it certainly has not. It causes 1% of all deaths globally – 603,000 a year – of which about 165,000 are in children, according to a study, from the World Health Organization’s Tobacco-Free Initiative in Geneva.

This is the first assessment made of passive smoking’s impact worldwide and is based on data analyses from 192 countries. They found that worldwide, 40% of children, 33% of male non-smokers and 35% of female non-smokers were subjected to passive smoking and the deaths related to that are not insignificant. They estimated that that one year this caused:

• 379,000 deaths from ischemic heart disease
• 165,000 deaths from lower respiratory infections
• 36,900 deaths from asthma
• 21,400 deaths from lung cancer

Almost half (48%) of all passive smoking deaths were in women and more than a quarter (28%) in children, with only 26% in men because research showed that men are more likely to be active smokers themselves.

Most deaths in children caused by passive smoking occurred in low- or middle-income but adult deaths from passive smoking were fairly evenly spread across all countries, irrespective of income. Children suffer heavier exposure to second-hand smoke than any other age-group, and are also the group for which there is strongest evidence of harm from passive smoking.

Although much has been done to cut smoking in public places such as bars and restaurants there is still the problem of smoking in the home, or around children outdoors. There are currently estimated to be around 1.2 billion smokers in the world and they are exposing billions of non-smokers to second-hand smoke. I know giving up can be hard, but if you are spending time around children, please do think about it.


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