A study of passive smoking by an expert committee of the National Research Council says that infants, young children and spouses of smokers are clearly at a health risk because of their exposure to secondhand smoke. The study, commissioned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Health and Human Services, said children exposed to smoke at home suffered significantly more respiratory infections and chronic ear infections and are more likely to wheeze, cough and produce phlegm.
According to the report, passive smoking in childhood may permanently stunt growth and lung
development and might possibly increase the risk of pulmonary disease as an adult. The committee said
that according to the best data available, nonsmoking spouses of smokers are 30% more likely to contract
lung cancer than are nonsmokers married to nonsmokers, which may account for as many as 2,400 deaths
from lung cancer each year in the U.S.
--Peter Montague, Ph.D.
Descriptor terms: tobacco; passive smoking; lung disease; disease statistics; lung cancer; environmental tobacco smoke;