To the Editor:
The CDC recently released a new report on secondhand smoke exposure. The report states that while exposure decreased from 87.5 percent to 25.2 percent from 1988 to 2014, progress has stalled.
An estimated one in four or 58 million Americans were exposed to secondhand smoke in 2014, which causes Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), respiratory/ear infections and asthma attacks in children. In adults, secondhand smoke causes heart disease, stroke and lung cancer.
Populations with higher prevalence of exposure were children ages 3 to 11, people living in poverty or rental housing, people living with someone who smoked inside the home, and those with less than a high school education.
While Housing and Urban Development smoking ban in public housing that was implemented in July was progress, more can be done to protect people from secondhand smoke.
Comprehensive policies, meaning all people are protected at all times, for all workplaces and public places, can be implemented at the state and local levels. Only 27 states have comprehensive polices that provide 100 percent protection.
Indiana’s Smoke-Free Air Law was passed in 2012, but exempts bars, nightclubs, casinos, private clubs and retail tobacco shops. Communities in Indiana may pass laws that are stronger than the state law and include these entities. Many have done so, including Bloomington, Columbus, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis and West Lafayette, among others. Some also include e-cigarettes.
The bottom line is this: there is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure and more must be done to protect ourselves and our children.
Jefferson County Tobacco
Prevention and Cessation Coordinator