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2.5 Million Calif. Children Exposed To Secondhand Smoke In Their Homes

Aired 10/28/11 on KPBS News.

California has the second lowest smoking rate in the nation. Still, a new study reveals about 2.5 million young children in the state are exposed to secondhand smoke in their home.

Transcript

— California has the second lowest smoking rate in the nation. Still, a new study reveals about 2.5 million young children in the state are exposed to secondhand smoke in their home.

The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research issued the report. It shows poor children and those living in rural parts of California are more likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke.

Sue Holtby is the study's lead author; she said African-American kids in the state are exposed at a very high rate.

"Twelve-point-six percent of African-American children live in homes where smoking is allowed indoors," Holtby said. "So that is significantly higher than all of the other racial ethnic groups."

The UCLA study also found geographic disparities in secondhand smoke exposure; 2.9 percent of households in San Diego County have someone in the home who smokes. In contrast, 19.4 percent of homes in California's Northern/Sierra Region contain at least one smoker. That's the highest rate in the state.

Health officials say kids who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at greater risk of getting pneumonia and ear infections. Children who grow up in smoking households are also more likely to become smokers themselves.

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