Citizens for Clean Air and Clean Lungs

Protect kids

Source: Veronica Holland /
ABC News
Tuesday, October 16, 2001

The Environmental Protection Agency called on parents to ban smoking inside their homes, as part of a nationwide campaign to eliminate juvenile asthma brought on by exposure to secondhand smoke.

Under the Smoke Free Homes Campaign, parents are being urged to sign a pledge that they will not permit smoking inside their homes, even if the parents themselves light up.

"Parents have to understand, we're not telling them to stop smoking - we're just asking them to use a little common sense," said EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman. "And if you have to smoke and if you must smoke and you can't stop, take it outside - don't do it around your children. That is the underlying message here," Whitman said.

The EPA has joined forces with American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, the American Academy of Pediatric, the Consumer Federation of America and the National Association of Counties to promote the program.

16 Million Children Exposed
According to Whitman, 16 million children are exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes each day, including 40 percent of all children under the age of 5. The AAAAI estimates that nearly 5 million children have asthma - resulting in an estimated 10 million missed school days.

Children exposed to secondhand smoke are also "more likely to suffer from ear infections and coughs, are more likely to be hospitalized for pneumonia and other serious and infectious diseases and are more likely to die of SIDS or crib death," said the AAP's Dr. Dana Best, a pediatrician at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Best also said children exposed to secondhand smoke suffered increased incidents of leukemia and lymphoma in adulthood, as well as more heart problems and decreased lung function.

"Children in general have a unique vulnerability," said Whitman. "They are not small adults. They metabolize differently, so they absorb greater concentrations of smoke than adults do and we need to use greater caution in protecting them from environmental threats around them."


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