Washington, Mar 6 : It's well known that secondhand smoke increases the risk for numerous illnesses and premature death. However, a new study has found that parents the world over are doing very little to protect their kids from such an exposure to it.
The household study was conducted in 31 countries by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who found that 82 percent of parents who smoked reported doing so around their children.
The study is among the first to demonstrate that secondhand smoke is a global concern, particularly for children.
The researchers also took measurements of f nicotine levels from household air and children's hair samples.
They found that concentrations of nicotine in the air were 17 times higher in households with a smoker compared to those without. Air concentrations were 12.9 times higher in households that permitted smoking indoors, compared to those that voluntarily restricted indoor smoking.
Hair samples showed a presence of nicotine in 78 percent of kids living with a smoker and 59 percent not living with a smoker. In most cases, hair nicotine levels were positively correlated with nicotine air concentrations.
Median air nicotine levels in households with smokers were highest in Europe, followed by Latin America and Asia.
Lead author, Heather Wipfli, PhD, project director at the Bloomberg School's Institute for Global Tobacco Control said that the results of the study showed that parents globally were failing to protect their kids from secondhand smoke exposure.
"Our research clearly shows that parents are failing to protect their children from secondhand smoke exposure, perhaps because they are unaware of the risks. The results highlight the need to improve public awareness of the importance of going outside to smoke to limit the exposure to children living in the home," she said.
The study was published on February 28 in the online version of the American Journal of Public Health and will appear in the journal's April 2008 print edition.