Secondhand smoke more dangerous in confined spaces

Smoking in public places is becoming frowned upon more and more and now, the Centers for Disease Control is saying don't do it in your home or even in your car!

"Literally, tobacco affects the entire body from the minute it hits your body, either through your mouth or through your nose," said Harrington Cancer Center Clinical Educator, Sharri Miller. "It hits the lungs, it goes to the brain seven seconds."

Miller told Pronews 7, the worst way to inhale it isn't even from smoking a cigarette yourself. It's just simply being around it: secondhand smoke. The CDC said the effects of secondhand smoke are even worse in confined areas like your home or car, and are particularly bad on kids.

"You've got ear infections, you have sinus infections. Anything from here," Miller said covering her face, "the minute you breathe it in, it's all reacting in an allergic way. And we're all allergic to it, even if you also smoke but children are more sensitive to it," she added. "Even if you're in the car and someone's smoking and they have the window down, it still can pose danger on you. There is no risk free secondhand smoke."

In the report, the CDC encourages families to stop smoking around children in their homes or cars. There are no actual restrictions against it for most families but for some, like foster families, it's actually illegal.

"Foster parents cannot smoke in the house," explained Department of Family and Protective Services Foster Adoption Program Director, Sandra White. "Now if a foster parents does smoke, they can smoke outside but not around the children and if they transport the children they're not allowed to smoke while they're transporting the children."

White said the agency has operated under these minimum standards for years, and the revised guidelines prohibiting foster parents from smoking around foster children were adopted in 2007. Even then, information continued to pile up about the increased dangers of secondhand smoke.

The recent CDC report talked about increased risk for infants to suffer from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. Children exposed to even small amounts of secondhand smoke are at risk for developing asthma, allergies and ear infections.

"How fair is it to place them in a home where there's someone smoking in there that might add more to their medical problems?", questioned White.

Overall, the number of teens exposed to secondhand smoke in cars has gone down in recent years but the CDC said there needs to be more restrictions to help prevent it. Until then, we just have to hope the medical risks are enough reason to quit.

"I hope that the individual will recognize that and not impose that in their child or realize that it's no good for them either," said Miller.