Too many Wisconsin kids are still being exposed to secondhand smoke. Recent research shows Wisconsin children are exposed to secondhand smoke at a rate 40 percent higher than the national average. “What they found is about ten percent of kids in Wisconsin are in households where adults are smoking,” says Dr. Nathan Jones of the UW Carbone Cancer Center. “That translates into about 139,000 kids in the state who are being exposed to smoke.”
Jones says the researchers were surprised, because Wisconsin has the 25th-lowest adult smoking rate in the nation. He says more education by health care professionals may make a difference. “Young children see doctors about twice a year on average, so that interaction with a health professional is a good place to teach parents about the dangers of secondhand smoke,” says Jones. The study, the National Survey of Childrens Health conducted by researchers from the National Cancer Institute, found that 10.5% of Wisconsin children age 17 and younger are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke, and ranked Wisconsin 5th in the nation for exposure to secondhand smoke among children. Childhood exposure to secondhand smoke causes respiratory problems, higher risk for sudden infant death syndrome, respiratory infections, ear problems and childhood asthma.