I phrased the headline like this on purpose. Because it is not only the kids’ parents that influence their health and future habits, it’s all adults that children come into contact with.
Two things happen when adults smoke next to kids :
1. There are short- and long-term detrimental effects on health : Exposure to secondhand smoke, even at extremely low levels, is associated with increased blood pressure in boys :
Results showed that boys ages 8 to 17 years old who were exposed to secondhand smoke had significantly higher systolic blood pressure than boys not exposed to tobacco smoke.
“While the increases in blood pressure observed among boys in our study may not be clinically meaningful for an individual child, they have large implications for populations. Over one-third of children in the U.S. and globally are exposed to secondhand smoke levels similar to those associated with adverse cardiovascular effects in our study,” said Jill Baumgartner, PhD, lead author of the study and research fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment.
I really have no idea why this effect doesn’t seem to be there in girls, some suggest genetic mechanisms. Second-hand smoke exposure also has other, and more immediate health effects for children, for example worsening of asthma symptoms, or more frequent middle ear infections.
2. Children whose parents smoked are twice as likely to smoke themselves :
The research indicated that parental behavior about smoking, not attitudes, is the key factor in delaying the onset of daily smoking, according to Karl Hill, director of the University of Washington’s Seattle Social Development Project and an associate research professor of social work.
Hill said other elements that influenced whether or not adolescents began daily smoking were consistent family monitoring and rules, family bonding or a strong emotional attachment inside the family, and parents not involving children in their own smoking behavior. The later includes such activities as asking their children to get a pack of cigarettes from the car or having them light a cigarette for the parent.
Don’t do it adults. Do not smoke near children and don’t involve your kids in your smoking habits. Give them a chance to be non-smokers, and to be unaffected from at least this particular health hazard. God knows there are enough other hazards already out there.
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