Health & Spirit

The cruel truth about secondhand smoke

By Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. on

When the tabloids expose famous moms and dads -- such as Kate Winslet, Barack Obama, Salma Hayek -- as smokers, they seem to think it will shock the nation. But alas, that's not the case. In fact, it's incredibly common for parents to expose their children to secondhand smoke.

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that fully 30% of nonsmoking kids ages 3-17 are assaulted (make no mistake, that's what it is!) with the toxic pollution from secondhand cigarettes, cigars and pipes. Children under age 11 are most likely to be exposed. Amazingly, the report also found that exposure to SHS affects around 25% of kids who do NOT live in a home with a smoker. They encounter SHS in friends' and relatives' homes, on playgrounds and in vehicles and restaurants.

SHS puts youngsters at increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome, more frequent and severe asthma attacks, stunted growth and ear infections as well as bronchitis and pneumonia. Plus, we know SHS ups adults' risk of lung cancer, heart attack and stroke; so it may speed up a kid's development of these life-threatening conditions.

Moms and dads: Quit smoking if you smoke (go to or for advice and support) and help your kids understand how dangerous exposure to SHS is when they're out and about. Tip: Making sure you never smoke in the house doesn't help! Thirdhand smoke on your clothes and embedded in the car and backyard furniture is toxic, too!



Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit

(c) 2019 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2019 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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