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Report shows African-American, low-income children in California at highest risk of secondhand smoke

Although smoking rates in California have steadily declined since 1998, nearly 2.5 million children in the state are still at risk of secondhand smoke, according to a recent report from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

In the report (.pdf), researchers analyzed data from several cycles of the California Health Interview Survey. Results showed that an estimated 561,000 children are directly exposed to secondhand smoke in the home and another 1.9 million are at risk because a family member at home is a smoker. Additional findings include:

  • African-American children have the highest level of exposure—12.6%. This rate is statistically higher than that of all other racial/ethnic groups and particularly striking at triple the rate of all other groups
  • A clear relationship between income level and children at risk for exposure to secondhand smoke. The lower a household’s income the more likely it is that the household has an adult or teen smoker.  Children living in households at or above 300% FPL (2.4%) were far less likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke than children
  • The proportions of households where children are at risk for exposure range from 19.4% in the Northern/Sierra region to 9.5% along the Central Coast.  The highest rates are in the San Joaquin Valley (4.8%) and Northern/Sierra regions (4.5%), where close to 5% of young children live in homes that permit smoking indoors

Study authors hope the data will be useful in identifying communities that would benefit form targeted messages about the negative health effects of secondhand smoke. Among their recommendations is for public health officials to develop a comprehensive media and outreach campaign using tailored, culturally-competent approaches to reduce children’s exposure to secondhand smoke.

Previously: Study shows anti-tobacco programs targeting adults also curb teen smokingStudy shows secondhand smoke a serious health threat to casino workers, patrons and Study shows smoking bans decrease kids’ exposure to secondhand smoke
Photo by Jesslee Cuizon

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