Cardiovascular Consequences of Childhood Secondhand Tobacco Smoke Exposure: Prevailing Evidence, Burden, and Racial and Socioeconomic Disparities: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association

Circulation
Geetha RaghuveerAmerican Heart Association Committee on Atherosclerosis, Hypertension, and Obesity in the Young of the Council on Cardiovasc

Abstract

Although public health programs have led to a substantial decrease in the prevalence of tobacco smoking, the adverse health effects of tobacco smoke exposure are by no means a thing of the past. In the United States, 4 of 10 school-aged children and 1 of 3 adolescents are involuntarily exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke (SHS), with children of minority ethnic backgrounds and those living in low-socioeconomic-status households being disproportionately affected (68% and 43%, respectively). Children are particularly vulnerable, with little control over home and social environment, and lack the understanding, agency, and ability to avoid SHS exposure on their own volition; they also have physiological or behavioral characteristics that render them especially susceptible to effects of SHS. Side-stream smoke (the smoke emanating from the burning end of the cigarette), a major component of SHS, contains a higher concentration of some toxins than mainstream smoke (inhaled by the smoker directly), making SHS potentially as dangerous as or even more dangerous than direct smoking. Compelling animal and human evidence shows that SHS exposure during childhood is detrimental to arterial function and structure, resulting in premature atheros...Continue Reading

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