Hawaii reduces hazard of secondhand smoke
The percentage of households in Hawaii that ban smoking is among the nation's highest.
GROWING public understanding of the health hazards of secondhand smoke has resulted a significant increase in smoke-free homes in the past decade. A survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
shows that nearly three out of four U.S. households -- about four in every five in Hawaii -- have the wisdom to direct smokers outside to feed their addiction.
The survey shows an increase of smoke-free households by 43 percent nationally and 55 percent in Hawaii. Only four states -- Utah (where strict Mormons forbid smoking), California, Arizona and Oregon -- exceed Hawaii's 79.7 percentage of smokeless homes.
In 1993, only 43.2 percent of American homes were off-limits to smoking, but that grew to 60.2 percent in 1999 and 72.2 percent in 2003, when the most recent survey was taken. In Hawaii, smoke-free homes rose from 51.5 percent in 1993 to 65 percent in 1999.
Unfortunately, too many smokers get their way in homes where they live. While 83.5 percent of households with no smokers forbid guests from smoking inside, only 31.8 percent of households with at least one smoker enforce such rules.
A report issued last year by then-Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona said that nonsmokers' exposure to secondhand smoke increases their risk of heart disease by at least 25 percent and of cancer by up to 30 percent. Carmona said 22 percent of children are exposed to secondhand smoke, which took 430 lives in 2005 by sudden infant death syndrome.
Early studies about the risk of secondhand smoke to nonsmokers were criticized as politically driven. However, more credible studies in recent years have proven that secondhand smoke is more harmful than that inhaled by a smoker.
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