In a survey covering four southern states, people exposed to
secondhand smoke in vehicles were twice as likely to have asthma
compared to those who were not exposed.
The study team cannot prove the smoke exposure caused asthma in the
people interviewed, but they warn that smoke can seriously aggravate
asthma symptoms and suggest drivers and passengers voluntarily ban
smoking in their cars.
“It’s problematic from a public health perspective,” said Brian
King, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention in Atlanta and a co-author of the study. “Secondhand
smoke is a lethal cocktail of carcinogens and toxins. You have a
dangerous exposure in a very confined environment.”
Asthma is a chronic disorder of the lungs and airways that causes
them to swell, an inflammatory response that can be fatal. In 2007,
asthma was linked to more than 3,400 U.S. deaths, according to the
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. About 25 million
Americans have been diagnosed with the condition.
King and his coauthor analyzed the responses from a phone survey of
18,000 non-smoking adults living in Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana or
Mississippi. They found that 7.4 percent reported having asthma, and
12.4 percent said they had been exposed to tobacco smoke in a
vehicle in the past week.
The people exposed to smoke had twice the odds of also having
asthma, the researchers report in the journal Tobacco Control.
The study establishes a link between asthma and secondhand smoke in
cars, King said, but that does not mean one causes the other. “We
don’t know what came first,” he said. “All we know is that people
with asthma are exposed. It’s not necessarily that the exposure is
causing the asthma.”
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The survey also found that among the participants with asthma, less
than 10 percent of those who established smoke-free rules in their
vehicles reported having been exposed to smoke. That compared to 57
percent of people with asthma who did not have smoke-free rules.
Hal Strelnick, a professor of family and social medicine at Albert
Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, encourages people
with asthma to voice their concerns when in the car with a smoker -
even though it may be challenging to speak up.
“(When) someone’s giving you a ride, and they light up a cigarette,
the social dynamics are difficult,” Strelnick said. “Even people who
have asthma have difficulty telling a smoker to stop smoking in the
Cigarette or cigar smoke in such a confined space can be hazardous
to your health and the health of those around you, Strelnick added.
If you are a smoker driving non-smokers, ask your passengers for
permission before lighting up, or voluntarily give up smoking in
your vehicle, he advised.
Smoke is known to raise the risk for other health problems, King
said. "Exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk for
developing health issues like cardiovascular disease and lung
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1trU1jw Tobacco Control, online May 2, 2014.
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