DHHS - Federal Study Reveals Disparities in Secondhand Smoke Exposure

NH Statistics Supports Findings

Concord, NH - A recent study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) has declined markedly in the US since the late 1980's, however almost fifty percent of
nonsmokers still have detectable levels of serum cotinine, a biochemical measurement of secondhand smoke exposure. The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Tobacco Prevention and Control Program (TPCP) reports findings that coincide with the results of the federal report.

The study was conducted using data from the 1988 -1994 and 1999- 2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES). The data reported shows nationally secondhand smoke exposure in homes declined from twenty-one percent to ten percent, serum cotinine levels declined from eighty-four percent to forty-six percent. The declines reflect the implementation of laws and policies that prohibit smoking outside the home. Despite improvement overall, disparities in SHS exposures among children increased. From 1999 - 2004 children were four times more likely to be exposed at home than adults (23.8 percent to 5.9 percent).

In New Hampshire, the percentage of adults (age 18 and older) who have smoke-free rules in their homes improved from 66.6 percent in 2001, to 79.6 percent in 2006. Smoke-free homes protect children and nonsmoking adults from the harmful chemicals released by burning tobacco. In 2002, 16.4 percent of New Hampshire residents reported being exposed to SHS in the home, 22.2 percent reported the exposure being in a car.

"Children are most vulnerable to negative health effects when exposed to secondhand smoke, because their organs, such as heart, lungs and middle ear tissues are still developing," said Director of DPHS Dr Jose Montero. "The best thing parents who are not yet ready to stop smoking can do for the health of their children is to eliminate smoking in closed places, such as the home and the car. This study underscores the need for us to continue our efforts to eliminate all exposures to secondhand smoke."

Eliminating exposure to SHS is one of the major goals of the TPCP. To learn more about the TPCP and efforts to promote smoke-free homes visit the DHHS website at: