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Tobacco Smoke Residue Causes "Massive Damage" in Babies' Skin - New Study
Parents who do not smoke in the presence of their children, including even those who smoke only outdoors, nevertheless put their children at serious risk of "massive damage" to both skin and nerve cells, according to a new study, notes ASH.
This means that court orders aimed at protecting children from parental smoking may have to be expanded to protect them from the toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke residues which are far higher than in smokey air, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH).
The New York Times called it “the invisible yet toxic brew of gases and particles clinging to smokers’ hair and clothing,” and Scientific American said it's "the cocktail of toxins that linger in carpets, sofas, clothes and other materials hours or even days after a cigarette is put out," but whether it's called tobacco smoke residue or thirdhand tobacco smoke, it's now been proven deadly and capable of causing cancer as well as nerve damage, especially to children.
Using radioactive nicotine as a marker, German scientists showed that the neurotoxin nicotine is not only released from a parent's clothing by perspiration so that it can be detected in all the layers of a babies' skin, but that it is also transported through the child's skin into deeper tissue layers.
They also demonstrated that the toxins from the smoke that were dissolved in the perspiration caused massive damage to children's skin cells -- this included changes in shape and even death to some cells. Also, nerve cells -- which are particularly active and developing in young children -- demonstrated major changes, and were no longer able to connect properly with one another.
"Parent's whose work clothing contained even tiny traces of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals like asbestos, benzene, etc. would never think of wearing the clothing in the presence of their children, and probably would be prohibited by law from doing so, yet tens of millions of parents are doing the same thing when the toxic residue from their tobacco smoke impregnates the clothing they hug or even breast feed their children wearing, argues Banzhaf.
Already, judges is most of the states have issued orders prohibiting smoking around children involved in custody disputes, about a dozen states have banned smoking in cars or homes when foster children are present, and a small but growing number of states ban smoking in cars -- all to protect the health of children put at risk by secondhand tobacco smoke.
Now all of these protections may have to be expended to include the risks caused by thirdhand tobacco smoke as well as secondhand tobacco smoke, suggests Banzhaf, whose legal actions have been in the forefront of the movement to protect children from the risks of their parents' smoking.
PROFESSOR JOHN F. BANZHAF III
Professor of Public Interest Law at GWU,
FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor,
FELLOW, World Technology Network, and
Executive Director and Chief Counsel
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
America’s First Antismoking Organization
2013 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006, USA
(202) 659-4310 // (703) 527-8418
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Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), America's first anti-smoking and nonsmokers' rights organization, serves as the legal action arm of the anti-smoking community. It is supported by tax-deductible contributions.