Resident of St. Louis County (MO) are about to vote on a smoking ban. The proposition would prohibit smoking throughout the county…with plenty of exceptions. Why is this even up for debate?!
A new study just out in the November issue of Pediatrics looks at secondhand and prenatal tobacco smoke exposure and makes a flat statement: “Secondhand tobacco smoke exposure of children and their families causes significant morbidity and mortality.”
Prenatal exposure to tobacco smoke sensitizes the fetal brain to nicotine, the study found, resulting in a higher likelihood that a child will become addicted to tobacco at a later age when the brain is exposed to nicotine.
The evidence supporting the association of secondhand smoke exposure of children with respiratory illnesses is long:
- lower respiratory illness
- middle-ear infections
- tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy
- sudden infant death syndrome
As Congress grapples with issues of health care, it should consider this: exposure to secondhand smoke causes asthma symptoms in 200,000 to one million children and contributes to as many as eight to 26 thousand new cases of asthma per year.
Early exposure to neurotoxins (including nicotine) can lead to lifelong learning, behavioral and development problems. Parents as Teachers helps early childhood professionals learn how to share prevention strategies with parents. Like pediatric clinics, Parents as Teachers settings offer “teachable moments” for parents, too. Smoking parents can be motivated to change their behavior for the benefit of their child’s health.
At the very least, they can vote for smokefree facilities.