Children Who Live in Apartments Have More Exposure to Secondhand Smoke

By Lauren Cooperman

A new study released in the January issue of Pediatrics, has found that children who live in apartments are more likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke compared to children who live in detached homes.

The data was collected from 2001-2006, and compared cotinine levels in 5,002 children who lived in detached homes (including mobile homes), attached homes, and apartments and were between the ages of 6 to 18.  Of the children analyzed, 73% were exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke.  As noted in, researcher Karen Wilson, MD, declared that children who lived in apparent smoke-free apartments had a 45% increase in continine levels compared to the children who lived in detached homes.

Additional research concluded that:

  • 84.5% of children living in apartments had a cotinine level that indicated recent tobacco-smoke exposure compared to 70.3% of those children living in detached houses.
  • Continine levels were higher in children who were  under age 12, African American, and living below federal poverty levels
  • At every level, children living in apartments had higher rates of cotinine exposure compared to all other dwellings

The authors of the study have suggested that the higher exposure levels are due to sharing elements that are created in apartment settings, such as seepage through shared walls and ventilation systems.  Dr. Nanci Yuan, an associate clinical professor at Stanford Univeristy, told ABC News that, “This article highlights the far reaching negative impact of smoking not only on the smoker themselves and their close contacts, but also impacts and burdens the health of their neighbors and the community as a whole”.

According to the American Cancer Society, the effects of secondhand smoke are detrimental to children.  Some of the long term effects on children are higher rates of lung infection, more cases of bronchitis, increase in severity of asthma attacks, ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

The authors of this study hope that the data leads to stricter housing laws, and someday zero tolerance for tobacco use in housing quarters.  “This study is the last link in the chain demonstrating the need for smoke-free buildings”, said researcher Dr. Jonathon Winickoff.  “People will shake their heads in disbelief that we ever allowed smoking in buildings where children live.”

Smoking is a difficult addiction to conquer.  For help quitting smoking or for information on smoking cessation Chantix, please consult a doctor.