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AAP Urges Smoke-Free Environment For Missouri Children

January 3, 2011

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - If your neighbor smokes, chances are it will affect your children, according to a recent study that examined smoke exposure in multi-family housing units. As a result of its study, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is urging parents to have smoke-free environments for their children.

The study found that children who live in apartments or duplexes receive a 45-percent increase in tobacco smoke contaminants - even if the child's immediate home environment is smoke-free.

Michelle Arzubi, an emergency-room physician at Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, says the study suggests that smoke seeps through walls or shared ventilation systems. While it's best to limit smoke exposure as much as possible, she realizes sometimes it can be difficult.

"I wish you could say you can control where you live, but obviously in this day and age, with financial issues, it's really hard not to be in a multi-family housing unit."

Arzubi points out parents can control some things, however, including their own ability to quit smoking, and she points to the many free programs available to help people break the habit. Exposure to tobacco smoke can cause asthma, cognitive impairments and even sudden infant death syndrome in children.

The AAP study also finds that children living in a house where a previous owner smoked are at risk, Arzubi warns.

"If they had carpet - even if they thoroughly steam-cleaned it - they found remnants, and there still will be effects from that smoke."

The AAP study concludes that smoking bans may be needed in multi-family housing to reduce children's exposure to tobacco smoke. The study is in the January issue of "Pediatrics," and also can be found at www.aap.org.

Heather Claybrook, Public News Service - MO