Teens And Second-Hand Smoke: Study Uncovers The Dangers Of Tobacco

First Posted: Jan 12, 2015 05:03 PM EST

Despite numerous warnings, many throughout the world continue to smoke. For those who do not take part, they may still be affected by those around them who take part in the potentially deadly habit.

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston in collaboration with East Tennessee State University, the Indian Institute of Technology and the World Health Organizational Regional Office for Africa, estimated the prevalence of secondhand smoke exposure worldwide among teens who had never smoked. Findings revealed that close to one-third of them are exposed to secondhand smoke even inside their very own homes. In addition, study results indicated that over two-fifths of teens are exposed to secondhand smoke outside the home. 

"We need to protect never-smokers from being exposed to secondhand smoke," said Phani Veeranki, lead author and UTMB assistant professor in the department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, in a news release. "The negative health effects of secondhand smoke exposure are well known. The question is, how many teens - especially never-smokers - are exposed to it?"

For the study, researchers examined the rates of secondhand exposure among 350,000 teens from 168 countries using the Global Youth Tobacco Survey. They measured secondhand smoke exposure inside and outside teens' homes, while investigating the role of parental and/or peer smoking and examining secondhand smoking along with overall attitudes towards smoking bans, age, sex and World Health Organization region (WHO).

Findings revealed that close to 90 percent of teens who had never smoked knew about the harmful effects of secondhand smoke exposure, while 79 percent supported smoking bans in public places. Unfortunately, knowing about the dangers of smoking showed relatively little impact when it came to teens' avoiding smoking areas or their ability to do so.

"We found that the odds of secondhand smoke exposure for never-smoking teens exposed to both parents and peers who smoke is 23 times higher than that of never-smoking teens who don't have smokers often around them," said Veeranki. "Our findings provide evidence for policy makers and public health professionals about the need for smoke-free environments in places frequented by teens worldwide."

More information regarding the findings can be seen via the Journal of Adolescent Health.

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