Study Highlights Need to Reduce Global Teen Exposure to Second-hand Smoke

The study evaluated data collected through a global collaboration between research institutes in the United States, India, and Africa. Study results pointed to a high rate of exposure of non-smoking teenagers to second-hand smoke, both at home and outside.

Many teens who have never smoked are being exposed to the health dangers of tobacco. A new study by the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, in collaboration with East Tennessee State University, the Indian Institute of Technology and the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa, estimated the prevalence of secondhand smoke exposure worldwide among teens who had never smoked, and found that one third of those teens are exposed to secondhand smoke inside the home. In addition, the study results indicate that more than two fifths of those teens are exposed to secondhand smoke outside the home. The study was recently published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

"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. "The negative health effects of secondhand smoke exposure are well known. The question is, how many teens -- especially never-smokers -- are exposed to it?"

The new study is the first ever to examine this issue on such a global scale. It looks at rates of secondhand exposure among more than 350,000 teens from 168 countries using the Global Youth Tobacco Survey. This survey measured secondhand smoke exposure inside and outside teens' homes. The survey also investigated the role of parental and/or peer smoking, knowledge about the effects of secondhand smoke, attitudes toward smoking bans, age, sex and World Health Organization region.

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