June 8, 2010 - The children living in non-smoking homes in U.S. counties with smoke-free laws had 39% lower prevalence of cotinine in their blood, an indicator of tobacco smoke exposure, compared to those living in counties with no smoke-free laws.
PAPER: Smoke-free Air Laws and Secondhand Smoke Exposure Among Nonsmoking Youth
Melanie S. Dove, MPH, Douglas W. Dockery, ScD, Gregory N. Connolly, DMD, MPH, Pediatrics - published online June 7, 2010, ABSTRACT..
"The findings suggest that smoke-free laws are an effective strategy to protect both children and adults from exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS, environmental tobacco smoke, ETS, involuntary smoking, sidestream smoke, passive smoking). In addition, interventions designed to reduce or prevent adults from smoking around children are needed," said Melanie Dove, who received her doctorate in environmental health at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) in 2010 and led the study.
The HSPH researchers examined data from the 1999-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a cross-sectional survey designed to monitor the health and nutritional status of the U.S. population. They analyzed the cotinine levels in 11,486 nonsmoking youngsters, aged 3-19 years, from 117 counties, both with and without exposure to secondhand smoke in the home.
Over the past decade the number of state and local smoke-free laws in the nation has grown significantly. For example, the number of smoke-free laws in workplaces, restaurants and bars in the U.S. has increased from 0 in 1988 to 175 in 2006. Approximately 20 percent of the youth in the HSPH study lived with a smoker in the home. These children had the highest cotinine levels and could benefit the most from an intervention to reduce exposure, regardless of smoke-free laws that might be in place, say the researchers.
According to the 2006 Surgeon General's Report, there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General, June 27, 2006.
Directly related news brief: England - decline in kids secondhand smoke exposure - we can do better..
Reference: Smoke-free air laws effective at protecting children from secondhand smoke, Physorg.com, 6/7/2010.