A University of Cincinnati study found that teens exposed to tobacco smoke were at higher risk of having respiratory symptoms, such as shortness of breath and a dry cough at night. It also found that smoke-exposed teens were more likely to seek treatment at an urgent care or hospital emergency department.
"There is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure," said Ashley Merianos, the lead author of the study. "Even a small amount of exposure can lead to more emergency department visits and health problems for teens. That includes not just respiratory symptoms, but lower overall health."
The study also found that adolescents exposed to tobacco smoke were more likely to find it harder to exercise, and would experience wheezing during and after exercise. They were also found to be more likely to report that they frequently missed school due to illness than unexposed teens.
Teens exposed to just one hour of secondhand smoke per week are 1.5 times more likely to find it harder to exercise; two times more likely to experience wheezing during or after exercise; two times more likely to have a dry cough at night; and 1.5 times more likely to miss school due to illness.
Merianos concluded that more must be done to curb adolescent exposure to secondhand smoke. "Healthcare providers or other health professionals can offer counseling to parents and other family members who smoke to help them quit smoking, and parents should be counseled on how to prevent and reduce their adolescent's secondhand smoke exposure," she said. "Also, health professionals should educate teens on the dangers associated with tobacco use to prevent initiation."
"Additionally, health professionals can help parents and family members establish home and car smoking bans," Merianos said.
The study has been published in Pediatrics....