Hawaii homes should be free of smoke
Nearly half of young Hawaii schoolchildren indicated in a survey that someone who lives in their home smokes cigarettes.
Nearly half of 1,400 elementary school children surveyed in Hawaii say someone in their home smokes cigarettes
, which is unfortunate but perhaps not as alarming as it might seem. An increasing number of homes are off-limits to smoking, forcing the tobacco addicts in residence to take their puffs outdoors so nonsmoking family members are not subjected to secondhand smoke.
The American Lung Association of Hawaii conducted the survey during the 2006-2007 school year. The children were asked, "Does anyone who lives in your home smoke cigarettes in your home now?" The question could have been more precise, using words such as "inside" or "indoors."
Jean Evans, the organization's executive director, said the survey "seems to indicate that family members really do not understand that smoking in confined areas, such as homes and cars, actually is harmful to their children and others."
That interpretation of the response seems to conflict with a recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nationally, it found, homes that were off-limits to smoking grew from 43.2 percent in 1993 to 72.2 percent in 2003. Smoke-free homes in Hawaii rose from 51.5 percent in 1993 to 79.7 percent in 2003.
If nearly half of Hawaii households are home to smokers, as the Lung Association survey can be interpreted, they should step outside to light up. The national survey found that only 31.8 percent of households with at least one smoker disallow smoking indoors.
Secondhand smoke is indisputably dangerous. Evans said Hawaii has the second-highest rate of asthma in the nation for children under age 17. The surgeon general reported last year that nonsmokers' exposure to others' smoke substantially increases their risk of heart disease. Smokers who retreat outside to indulge are doing the nonsmokers in their families a big favor.
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