Decline stalls: 58 million Americans still exposed to secondhand smoke

Progress in reducing exposure to secondhand smoke among U.S. nonsmokers has stalled in recent years, despite longstanding declines over the past 30 years.

Progress in reducing exposure to secondhand smoke among U.S. nonsmokers has stalled in recent years, despite longstanding declines over the past 30 years. An estimated 58 million American nonsmokers (1 in 4) were still exposed to secondhand smoke from burning tobacco products such as cigarettes during 2013–2014, according to new data published by CDC. Exposure to secondhand smoke remains high for certain groups, including children ages 3-11 years (38%), people living in poverty (48%), and people living in rental housing (39%), according to findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The study assessed exposure using serum cotinine, a marker of secondhand smoke found in the blood. "We know there’s no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure," said CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, MD. "These findings reveal that there is still much more to do to protect everyone—especially children—from this completely preventable health hazard." During 2011–2014, the percentage of nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke did not decline significantly across most demographic subgroups. This lack of decline could be attributable to the slowed adoption of comprehensive smoke-free laws in all workplaces, restaurants, and bars at the state and local levels during this period. Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia have comprehensive smoke-free laws, but adoption of such laws has slowed in recent years.