The poorer the household, the more likely its kids are to inhale secondhand smoke; Ky. is poor and has 2nd highest smoking rate

Study charts show less exposure among older youth, who tend to spend more time outside the home.

Children who live in poverty are nearly three and a half times more likely to be exposed to secondhand cigarette smoke than their counterparts in high-income households, a new study says.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination study, released by the National Center for Health Statistics, found that from 2013 to 2016, nearly 55 percent of children aged 3 to 17 whose families are below the federal poverty level were exposed to secondhand smoke. That was the case for only 16 percent of those living in well-to-do households, those with incomes at or above 400% of the poverty level, which for a family of four is income of $103,000 a year.

Secondhand smoke exposure is defined by the presence of a metabolite of nicotine, in blood, urine or saliva. African American youth, at all income levels, had the highest levels of exposure; overall, 62% were exposed. After declining for decades following the 1980s, these percentages have remained steady in recent years; Kentucky has the nation’s second-highest adult-smoking rate, 26%, and its household-poverty rate of 17.2% is the fifth highest among the states.

“These children and teens are sicker, they miss more days of school, and they’re at higher risk for heart disease, stroke and lung cancer as adults,” said Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. “One of the most important health benefits of Kentucky’s new tobacco-free schools law is that it reduces kids’ exposure to secondhand smoke where they spend a significant chunk of their time, both during the school day and at after-school events. We urge every Kentucky school district to move quickly to adopt and implement a tobacco-free policy in compliance with the new law.” The law takes effect statewide in August 2020, except in school districts that opt out of it.
Previous Article
Next Article