Research shows that although you may have strict no smoking rules in your apartment, it does not necessarily mean that your home is “smoke free.” Researchers found that children who lived in shared walled residences had a much higher rate of smoke exposure, even if their own apartment was smoke free. The blood of 5,000 children ages 6-18 was tested for cotinine, a chemical that is present in individuals who have inhaled cigarette smoke.
One third of the participants had reported smelling smoke in their apartment building, condominiums and other multi-unit housing. Half of the participants reported smelling smoke within their own unit. “We know that if you smell it, your child will have evidence of tobacco smoke exposure in their blood. But just because you don’t smell it, doesn’t mean you’re not exposed,” Winickoff, associate professor in pediatrics at MassGeneral Hospital for Children and senior author of the paper, said. Winickoff found that nine out of ten children had some levels of cotinine in their blood. The mean level of cotinine was highest for children who lived in apartments at 0.075 nanograms per millimeter while attached housing had 0.053 and detached housing was 0.031. Researchers excluded testing children who have family members who smoke within their own apartment.
Exposure to smoke increases children’s chances for developing asthma, pneumonia and ear infections. And currently 80 million people live in multiunit housing according to Andrew Hyland, a researcher at Rosewell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo. With these new findings and the known health risks that smoke poses to children, cities –including New York City- are looking to restrict smoking even within people’s own homes.
“It’s very different than even smoking in a restaurant or a bar,” said Dr. Siegel, professor of community health sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health. “You can make the argument that you don’t really have to go to a restaurant, or you could go to another one. But you cannot say, ‘You don’t have to live in your home.’ This is truly involuntary.”
Smoking is detrimental to the health of not only the smoker, but also the people around them. If you currently smoke and are looking for cessation treatment, Southern Methodist University is offering a free program and research study in the Dallas community. If you wish to quit smoking, please call Quit Smoking Dallas at 214-768-7848 or complete the online survey to see if you are eligible to participate. The online screen can be found at quitsmokingdallas.com.
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