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Secondhand Smoke Has Major Impact on Health of Black Americans, Study Finds

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Secondhand smoke has a major impact on the health of black Americans, a new study finds. The research included data from more than 12,000 adults in 2006. In that year, more than 41,000 American adults, and almost 900 infants, died of diseases related to secondhand smoke, HealthDay reports.

Blacks had significantly higher levels of secondhand smoke exposure compared with whites, the study found. Black men ages 45 to 64 had the highest level of exposure (64 percent), followed by black men ages 20 to 44 (63 percent). Black women ages 20 to 44 had the highest exposure rate (63 percent) compared with all other women.

Black infants accounted for only 13 percent of the infant population, but accounted for between 24 and 36 percent of deaths caused by mothers who smoked during pregnancy.

“Our study probably underestimates the true economic impact of secondhand smoke on mortality,’’ lead author Wendy Max, PhD of the University of California, San Francisco, said in a news release. “The toll is substantial, with communities of color having the greatest losses. Interventions need to be designed to reduce the health and economic burden of smoking on smokers and nonsmokers alike, and on particularly vulnerable groups.’’

The study appears in the American Journal of Public Health.

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