Passive Smoking Kills >150,000 Kids/Yr, Including in U.S.

The WHO reports that 165,000 children die annually from secondhand tobacco smoke. While most occur in poor countries, many people refuse to recognize that parental smoking kills thousands of children yearly in the U.S., largely unprotected by law.
By: Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
Nov. 30, 2010 - PRLog -- The World Health Organization [WHO] reports that an estimated 165,000 children die each year because of secondhand tobacco smoke.  While most occur in poor countries like those in Africa, many people refuse to recognize that parental smoking kills thousands of children even year in the U.S. - something our nonsmokers' laws do little to protect, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf, Executive Director of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH).

As the New York Times and other publications have reported, based upon an article in The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, at least 6.200 children die each year in the U.S. because of their parents' smoking.  "More young children are killed by parental smoking than by all unintentional injuries combined," including more than a thousand directly from tobacco smoke pollution, the researchers reported.  They also said that 5.4 million children each year survived ailments like ear infections and asthma triggered by parental smoking.

Although children are far more sensitive to secondhand tobacco smoke than adults, and usually helpless to do anything to prevent or even reduce their exposure, most of the so-called nonsmokers' rights laws - which increasingly ban smoking in workplaces and public places - do little if anything for these victims, says Banzhaf.

"As a adult, I can choose whether or not to go into a bar, and I can choose which bar to go into.  Once inside, if exposed to tobacco smoke, I can leave, move away from the smoker, or complain to the smokers or bar tender.  Even so, many states ban all smoking in bars.  But a child strapped into a child safety seat with a parent smoking in a car is exposed to much higher levels of pollution, yet only a handful of states have banned smoking under such circumstances," says Banzhaf.

Children enjoy even less protection from the deadly effects of secondhand tobacco smoke in their homes where most of the exposure takes place, says Banzhaf.  Judges in the great majority of states have been willing to issue orders prohibition smoking in homes to protect children involved in divorce and custody proceedings - sometimes on a routine or automatic basis - and about a dozen jurisdictions ban smoking in the home when a foster child is present.  But most children enjoy no such protection from a major killer; one which also costs billions of dollars every year in totally unnecessary medical care for these unprotected children.

Action on Smoking and Health, America's first antismoking organization, has helped to lead the way towards protecting children from tobacco smoke.  It helped develop legal arguments under which judges increasingly ban smoking in homes, and filed legal petitions asking states to ban smoking when children are present in homes and cars.  It also assists parents and grandparents seeking to protect their children or grandchildren from tobacco smoke pollution.

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.
Source:Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
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