‘No’ to Second-Hand Smoke

Protect our children from the double blow of tobacco and asthma

 

By Aida L. Maisonet Giachello, Ph.D.

[email protected]

 

We do not know the exact causes of asthma, nor have we found a silver bullet with which to cure it.[14]  However, we do know that asthma affects Latinos more than other ethnic groups.

According to a 2010 study, 6.7% of the Latino population, or 3.6 million Latinos, not including the population of Puerto Rico, suffer from asthma.[15]  Their symptoms generally include swelling and spasms that block the flow of air in the windpipe.[16]

Among Latinos living in the fifty U.S. states, Puerto Ricans are the most likely to develop asthma.  18.1% of Puerto Ricans are current asthma sufferers, compared with 6.0% of Mexican-Americans.  The asthma rate among Puerto Ricans is 113% higher than that of non-Hispanic whites and 50% higher than that of African-Americans.[17]

Moreover, Puerto Ricans have the highest asthma mortality rate of all Latino and non-Latino groups in the U.S.[18]

A wide range of respiratory irritants can trigger or intensify asthma symptoms, including damp rooms, disease-carrying insects, trash, fumes from factories and cleaning products, and tobacco smoke.[19]  Health experts consider tobacco to be a hazardous product.  Second-hand smoke contains more than 7,000 toxins[20] and an estimated 7,500 to 15,000 children are hospitalized annually due to exposure to second-hand smoke.[21] In this country, approximately 49,400 people die every year from second-hand smoke.[22]

There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke.[23]  Moreover, we know that toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke can also adhere to our clothes, to furniture and to the walls of our homes, putting virtually all of us at risk of becoming passive victims at some point in our lives.

Jessica, a Puerto Rican resident of New York, has learned firsthand about the toll of second-hand smoke.  Her seven year-old son, Aden, suffers from severe asthma and sometimes needs to breathe through a special inhaler to stay alive.  Aden was exposed to tobacco smoke as an infant and despite his tender age, he has already had to make several hospital emergency room visits to control his asthma episodes.[24]

Preventing cases similar to Aden’s is one of the fundamental motivations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) new national tobacco education campaign, Tips from Former Smokers.  Through the campaign, people such as Jessica and her son tell their personal stories about the consequences of smoking and second-hand smoke.[25]

Tips from Former Smokers is undoubtedly a positive campaign and a constructive investment on the part of the federal government.[26]  Many local governments have also joined the fight against second-hand smoke.  The number of cities that have established laws and ordinances that promote health by prohibiting smoking in certain public spaces is rising.

However, we cannot leave everything in the hands of the government and the law.  We are responsible for our own health and that of our children.

If you are a smoker and want to kick this deadly habit, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.[27] Encourage your friends and family members who smoke to do the same.

“Don’t be shy to tell people not to smoke around your kids,” Jessica recommends in her Tips from Former Smokers spot.  She knows from experience the anguish that a parent feels watching her child gasp for breath.

Do your part to help make tobacco’s collateral damage a part of our past, not our future. Join the fight against second-hand smoke.

 

Aida L. Giachello, Ph.D.

Facultad de Medicina Feinberg

Universidad de Northwestern, Chicago

 

 

 

Dr. Aida Luz Maisonet Giachello, a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, is currently a professor and researcher at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago.  She holds a Ph.D. in medical sociology from the University of Chicago, specializing in Hispanic/Latino and minority health. She also holds a master’s degree in social services administration.  Her efforts have been crucial to the creation of numerous health, research and social services organizations in the Chicago metropolitan area, the Midwest and nationally, including the Midwest Latino Health, Research Training and Policy Center and the National Latino Tobacco Control Network (NLTCN).  Dr. Giachello is an expert on maternal and infant health and the impact of asthma, diabetes, cancer and other illnesses in Latino communities.  In 2005, TIME Magazine honored her as one of the country’s 25 most influential Latinos.  In 2007, she was named one of the 100 most influential Hispanics in the U.S. by the magazine People En Español, and in 2010 she was one of 10 people in the country selected for the Inspire Award by AARP The Magazine.

 

ABOUT THE NATIONAL LATINO TOBACCO CONTROL NETWORK (NLTCN)

The National Latino Tobacco Control Network (NLTCN) provides information and support for tobacco control and health disparities advocates and experts who want to become more effective in changing policies and social norms around tobacco control through the exchange of information and personal and institutional linkages.  NLTCN produces newsletters, reports and other publications about best practices in tobacco control, and organizes events and training opportunities throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico.  NLTCN’s website (www.latinotobaccocontrol.org) serves as a resource with links to repositories of tobacco control materials, curriculums and reports to help advocates do their work.

 

 

 

 

[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Asthma: Basic Information [last reviewed 2009 Apr 24; last updated 2009 Oct 20; accessed 2013 Mar 12].

[2] CDC 2012. National Health Interview Survey Data 2010. Table 3-1 http://www.cdc.gov/asthma/nhis/2010/table3-1.htm

[3] CDC 2012. National Health Interview Survey Data 2010. Table 4-1 http://www.cdc.gov/asthma/nhis/2010/table4-1.htm

[4] CDC 2006. Health E-Stats. Asthma Prevalence, Health Care Use and Mortality: United States, 2003-05. Figure 7. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/asthma03-05/asthma03-05.htm

[5] Ibid. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Asthma: Basic Information, What Causes an Asthma Attack? .

[6] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A Report of the Surgeon General: How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: What It Means to You. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2010 [accessed 2013 Mar 12]. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/2010/consumer_booklet/pdfs/consumer.pdf

[7] California Environmental Protection Agency. Identification of Environmental Tobacco Smoke as a Toxic Air Contaminant. Executive Summary. June 2005 [accessed 2013 Mar 12]  http://ash.org/CAEPAProposal.pdf

[8] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Years of Potential Life Lost, and Productivity Losses—United States, 2000–2004. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2008;57(45):1226–8 [accessed 15 Mar 2013]. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5745a3.htm

[9] The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. June 27, 2006. http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/secondhandsmoke/index.html

[10] CDC ad campaign, “Tips from former smokers – Jessica’s Asthma Ad.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eUOjSTZMIE

[11] [Accessed 12 Mar 2013] http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/spanish/

[12] Nancy A. Rigotti, MD, and Melanie Wakefield, PhD. Real People, Real Stories: A New Mass Media Campaign That Could Help Smokers Quit. Annals of Internal Medicine. Volume 156,  Number 12. 18 December 2012

[13] [Accessed 12 Mar 2013] http://espanol.smokefree.gov/talkToExpert.aspx

[14] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Asthma: Basic Information [last reviewed 2009 Apr 24; last updated 2009 Oct 20; accessed 2013] Mar 12].

[15] CDC 2012. National Health Interview Survey Data 2010. Table 3-1 http://www.cdc.gov/asthma/nhis/2010/table3-1.htm

[16] Ibid. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Asthma: Basic Information

[17] CDC 2012. National Health Interview Survey Data 2010. Table 4-1 http://www.cdc.gov/asthma/nhis/2010/table4-1.htm

[18] CDC 2006. Health E-Stats. Asthma Prevalence, Health Care Use and Mortality: United States, 2003-05. Figure 7. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/asthma03-05/asthma03-05.htm

[19] Ibid. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Asthma: Basic Information.

[20] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A Report of the Surgeon General: How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: What It Means to You. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2010 [accessed 2013 Mar 12]. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/2010/consumer_booklet/pdfs/consumer.pdf

[21] California Environmental Protection Agency. Identification of Environmental Tobacco Smoke as a Toxic Air Contaminant. Executive Summary. June 2005 [accessed 2013 Mar 12]  http://ash.org/CAEPAProposal.pdf

[22] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Years of Potential Life Lost, and Productivity Losses—United States, 2000–2004. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2008;57(45):1226–8 [accessed 15 Mar 2013]. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5745a3.htm

[23] The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. June 27, 2006. http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/secondhandsmoke/index.html

[24] CDC ad campaign, “Tips from former smokers – Jessica’s Asthma Ad.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eUOjSTZMIE

[25] [Accessed 12 Mar 2013] http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/

[26] Nancy A. Rigotti, MD, and Melanie Wakefield, PhD. Real People, Real Stories: A New Mass Media Campaign That Could Help Smokers Quit. Annals of Internal Medicine. Volume 156,  Number 12. 18 December 2012

[27] [Accessed 12 Mar 2013] http://www.smokefree.gov/expert.aspx

You must be logged in to post a comment Login