The recent announcement of a new partnership designed to protect children enrolled in Head Start from the dangers of secondhand smoke is significant. The American Lung Association commends Acting Surgeon General Kenneth Moritsugu and the American Academy of Pediatrics and their partners for taking this step to protect one of our most vulnerable populations.

No child should ever be exposed to secondhand smoke. Parents, grandparents and caregivers all must take steps to protect children from exposure. The American Lung Association also encourages all health care providers and educators to talk with parents and caregivers about protecting their children from this deadly smoke.

Last year's Surgeon General's Report on The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke made it clear that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, particularly when it comes to children. Today's announcement, "Children and Secondhand Smoke Exposure," emphasizes the harmful consequences to children. Almost 60 percent of U.S. children aged three years to eleven years-or almost 22 million children-are exposed to secondhand smoke. Infants exposed are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and children are especially vulnerable to other people's smoke, suffering acute respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia, more severe asthma and ear infections as a result. Secondhand smoke causes an estimated 150,000 to 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections in infants and children less than 18 months of age, and each year, hundreds of thousands of children with asthma have their symptoms worsened by being exposed to other people's smoke.

Currently, 21 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have already passed strong smokefree air laws that protect everyone from the dangers of secondhand smoke in workplaces including bars and restaurants. In January of 2006, the American Lung Association launched our Smokefree Air 2010 Challenge, urging all states to go smokefree by 2010.

For more information about how to stop smoking, please call 1-800 LUNG USA or log onto the American Lung Association's Freedom From Smoking® Online program at lungusa.

About the American Lung Association

Beginning our second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to prevent lung disease and promote lung health. Lung disease death rates continue to increase while other leading causes of death have declined. The American Lung Association funds vital research on the causes of and treatments for lung disease. With the generous support of the public, the American Lung Association is "Improving life, one breath at a time."


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