Secondhand Smoke Kills More Than 600,000 A Year


photo via Smoke Free Texas

I sat outside a Starbucks in Houston, Texas the other day, trying to enjoy my soy latte but I was surrounded by smokers. I didn't ask them to stop--it was a smoking-allowed area--but perhaps I should have anyway, and I could have told them about a new study, published yesterday in The Lancet, which finds that secondhand smoking kills more than 600,000 lives each year around the world.This is an amazing 1 percent of all deaths, according to the study, which was lead by Annette Pruess-Ustuen of the World Health Organisation in Geneva. For the study, which is the first global look at the second-hand smoking, researchers looked over data from 2004 for 192 countries and they found 40 percent of children regularly are exposed to secondhand smoke and that more than 30 percent of non-smoking men and women are too.

Here's the breakdown of the deaths associated with passive smoking:
--379,000 deaths from heart disease
--165,000 deaths from lower respiratory disease
--36,900 deaths from asthma
--and 21,400 deaths from lung cancer a year

Passive smoking has other deleterious effects. Children exposed to smoke by their parents have a higher risk of bronchitis and asthma, sudden infant death syndrome, ear infections, and pneumonia. Their lung development can also be stunted.

It's estimated that 12 percent of US adults regularly smoke, according to the CDC.

For efforts to stop smoking in Texas, the scene of my bad smoking exposure day, please visit Smoke Free Texas and take action.