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Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2000 Jan;6(1):31-6.

Involuntary smoking and asthma.

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  • 1Center for Behavioral Epidemiology and Community Health, Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, CA, USA.


Involuntary smoking is the third leading preventable cause of death, and among children it causes lower respiratory infections, middle ear disease, sudden infant death syndrome, and asthma. Half the world's children may be exposed to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), exacerbating symptoms in 20% of children with asthma. Recent studies have reinforced previous conclusions that ETS exposure causes onset of childhood asthma and exacerbation of symptoms throughout life. The exact mechanisms by which this is accomplished are still unclear, as are the relative contributions of prenatal versus postnatal exposure. However, favorable health outcomes can be attained with reduced exposure. Among the few studies of ETS exposure reduction interventions, low-intensity advice methods appeared ineffective, and counseling parent smokers appeared successful. Direct counseling of school-aged children to avoid ETS has yet to be tested. Community norms may need to shift further in favor of protecting children and others from ETS before minimal interventions can be successful. This will require combined and ongoing efforts of the medical and public health establishments, in concert with legislation mandating tobacco-free public places and with ETS-related media campaigns.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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