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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Study, 1996

Speaking Points

A major study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which involved taking blood samples from 12,678 people, found that exposure to the hazards of environmental tobacco smoke is almost universal.22

Even most people who do not work or live around people who smoke have quantifiable levels of cotinine in their blood.  Cotinine is the metabolic residue from the body’s processing of inhaled nicotine.23  

The study offers strong evidence that people tend to underestimate their exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.  There is a wide gap between the percentage of nonsmokers who believe they are exposed to tobacco smoke (37% of adults) and the 87.9% who actually are.24  

The study found that 43% of children aged 2 months to 11 years live in a home with at least one smoker, and that men had more exposure than women.25

Though most everyone is exposed to secondhand smoke, cotinine levels are highest among those exposed to ETS at work and/or at home.26

A recent study assessed the impact of attitudes regarding secondhand smoke among youth and found that the only statistically significant predictor of planning to stop smoking, or having actually stopped, was believing that secondhand smoke harmed nonsmokers.  This belief more than doubled the chances of youth smokers planning to stop or having stopped smoking.27

22 Pirkle, J., Flegal, K., Bernert, J., Brody, D., Etzel, R., & Maurer, K.  Exposure of the US population to environmental tobacco smoke:  The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988 to 1991.  Journal of the American Medical Association, 275:1233-1239, April 24, 1996.

23 Ibid.

24 Ibid.

25 Ibid.

26 Ibid.

27 Glantz, S.A., Jamieson, P.,  Attitudes toward secondhand smoke, smoking, and quitting among young people,  Pediatrics 106(6),  December 2000.

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