More than half of adolescents say they’ve been exposed to secondhand cigarette smoke or e-cigarette aerosol in public places, according to a study published Thursday.
Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say they expect exposure to increase since e-cigarette use skyrocketed last year, and they called for policies banning e-cigarette aerosol in indoor environments.
“Strongly enforced and comprehensive smoke-free policies that include e-cigarettes have several important benefits such as the potential to reduce the social acceptability of tobacco product use, promote smoking cessation, and support efforts to decrease smoking initiation among youth,” authors wrote in “Exposure to Secondhand Smoke and Secondhand E-Cigarette Aerosol Among Middle and High School Students” published in Preventing Chronic Disease, www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2019/18_0531.htm.
Study data come from the 2015-’17 National Youth Tobacco Survey, which includes youths in grades six through 12.
In 2017, 55.1% of youths (more than 14.3 million) reported exposure to either secondhand smoke or e-cigarette aerosol in indoor or outdoor public places, about the same as in 2015.
About 50.5% (13.2 million) had been exposed to secondhand cigarette smoke in the past 30 days, while 25.6% (6.7 million) were exposed to e-cigarette aerosol, according to the report.
E-cigarette use spiked by 78% among high school students from 2017 to 2018, so reports of secondhand exposure likely will rise during the next round of surveys, according to the CDC.
Exposure to smoke or aerosol was most common among students who were female, white, in high school and users of e-cigarettes or other tobacco products.
Youths living with tobacco users were more likely to report exposure in public places, suggesting they likely were exposed both at home and in public.
Authors said exposure to secondhand smoke and aerosol puts youths’ health at risk and may make them see smoking as a common habit. Since most smoke-free laws were passed before e-cigarettes became popular, they urged policymakers to include e-cigarettes in these laws.
“Fully enforced, comprehensive, smoke-free policies for indoor environments that include both combustible and electronic tobacco products are critical to reduce the social acceptability of tobacco product use and to protect bystanders from all tobacco product emissions,” they concluded.