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Rhode Island Promotes Smoke-Free Air

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

You may have seen the billboard with a dog wearing a gas mask. Or maybe you saw the picture of a young mother holding her child with a caption that reads “Julie smokes two packs a day. So does her baby.”

These ads are part of the Rhode Island Department of Health’s (HEALTH) campaign encouraging adults not to smoke in homes or in cars, especially if they have children or pets.

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Secondhand smoke is involuntarily inhaled by non-smokers. The chemicals in secondhand smoke can cause cancer for anyone. In children, it can trigger asthma attacks and cause ear infections and upper respiratory disease. In homes where smoking occurs, the rate of sudden infant death syndrome is higher than in smoke-free homes. In addition, recent studies show that secondhand smoke can cause oral cancer and lymphoma in cats, lung and nasal cancer in dogs, and lung cancer in birds.

“Every year, 53,000 children in Rhode Island are exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes,” said Director of Health David R. Gifford, MD, MPH. “Children’s lungs are not fully developed and are more susceptible to permanent damage. Any exposure to secondhand smoke is unhealthy and dangerous, particularly to kids and pets.”

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) reports that secondhand smoke contains at least 250 chemicals known to be toxic, including more than 50 that can cause cancer.

The 2006 Surgeon General’s Report entitled The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke shows that non-smokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their heart disease risk by 25-30% and lung cancer risk by 20-30%.