Journal Issue: Critical Health Issues for Children and Youth Volume 4 Number 3 Winter 1994
Involuntary, passive, or secondhand smoking exposure has significant adverse effects on the health of children. However, its importance in causing and promoting disease in childhood and the availability, practicality, and effectiveness of various prevention measures are not fully appreciated by the public or professionals. This article summarizes the substantial evidence indicating that environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure plays a major role in childhood illness: respiratory tract disorders, ear infections, general morbidity, adverse effects on physical and mental development, and increased perinatal mortality and morbidity. Progress is being made in prohibiting smoking in some public places frequented by children and in the dissemination of information about the hazards of ETS. However, there is still a need to initiate and implement such policies in child care centers, public libraries, restaurants, and sports arenas. There is also a special challenge to develop effective noncoercive, educational programs directed at parents and their relatives and friends in home settings and those involved in family child care. In addition, cultural and language diversity requires the development of new and varied educational efforts.