58 Million Americans Still Exposed to Secondhand Smoke: CDC

Atlanta, GA– An estimated 58 million American nonsmokers (1 in 4) were still exposed to secondhand smoke from burning tobacco products such as cigarettes during 2013–2014, according to new data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Progress in reducing exposure to secondhand smoke among U.S. nonsmokers has stalled in recent years, despite longstanding declines over the past three decades.

Exposure to secondhand smoke remains high for certain groups, including children ages 3-11 years (38 percent), people living in poverty (48 percent), and people living in rental housing (39 percent), according to findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey released today in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). The study assessed exposure using serum cotinine, a marker of secondhand smoke found in the blood.

During 2011–2014, the percentage of nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke did not decline significantly across most demographic subgroups. This lack of decline could be attributable to the slowed adoption of comprehensive smoke-free laws in all workplaces, restaurants, and bars at the state and local levels during this period.

Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia have comprehensive smoke-free laws, but adoption of such laws has slowed in recent years. However, there has been progress at the local level since the data in this study were collected, which could be reflected in future surveys. During 2015–2017, 199 communities adopted comprehensive smoke-free laws, and 21 have implemented such laws as of July 2018.

Despite this recent smoke-free progress, disparities persist according to key findings in the MMWR.  Half of black nonsmokers are exposed to secondhand smoke, including 2 of every 3 black children; more than 3 in 10 nonsmokers with less than a high school education are exposed to secondhand smoke; more than 7 in 10 nonsmokers living with someone who smokes inside the home are exposed to secondhand smoke

Secondhand smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals including about 70 that can cause cancer. Secondhand smoke is a known cause of sudden infant death syndrome; respiratory infections; ear infections; and asthma attacks in infants and children; as well as heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer in adult nonsmokers.

According to the 2014 Surgeon General’s Report, ”The Health Consequences of Smoking-50 Years of Progress,” each year exposure to secondhand smoke causes more than 41,000 deaths from lung cancer and heart disease among non-smoking adults and 400 deaths from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here