A new study estimates 2.5 million children under age 12 in California are at risk of exposure to secondhand smoke. About 560,000 children live in homes where smoking is allowed, and another 1.9 million live with family members who smoke, even if they don’t do so at home, the Los Angeles Times reports.
In a policy brief by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, the study’s authors noted black children, poor children and those living in rural areas are most likely to be at risk of secondhand smoke exposure.
California has the second-lowest smoking rate in the nation, the researchers point out in a news release. They note secondhand smoke exposure raises children’s risk of developing asthma, respiratory infections and many other illnesses. Children of smokers are more likely to become smokers themselves, they add.
“The next frontier in the campaign against smoking is to reduce smoking at home,” said lead researcher Sue Holtby. “California’s fight against tobacco has been a major public health success story, but we still need to spread awareness and ensure that every family knows the dire consequences of addiction.”