Smoking in the Household

Exposure to environmental smoke–from cigarettes, cigars, or pipes–can be a serious health hazard for children. Secondhand smoke causes numerous health problems in infants and children, including more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections, ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Smoking during pregnancy results in more than 1,000 infant deaths annually.1, 2 Parents were asked whether anyone in the household used cigarettes, cigars, or pipe tobacco. Overall, 24.1 percent of children were reported to live in households where someone smokes, and 4.9 percent of children were exposed to secondhand smoke inside their homes (data not shown). The percentage of children who lived in a household with a smoker was significantly higher in rural areas compared to urban areas. One-third of children in large and small rural areas lived with a smoker, compared to 22.2 percent of urban children.

Non-Hispanic White, Hispanic, and non-Hispanic children of multiple or other races living in small and large rural areas were significantly more likely to report living with a smoker than their urban counterparts. Among children in both large and small rural areas, non-Hispanic White and non-Hispanic children of multiple or other races were significantly more likely than non-Hispanic Black children to live with a smoker.

In all locations, children with higher household incomes were significantly less likely to live with a smoker. For example, among children in large rural areas, 41.8 percent of those with household incomes below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) lived with a smoker, compared to 30.0 percent of children with incomes of 200–399 percent of the FPL and 16.5 percent of those with household incomes of 400 percent or more of the FPL. Within each income group, the percentage of children who lived with a smoker was significantly higher in both large and small rural areas than in urban areas.

1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Let's Make the Next Generation Tobacco-Free: Your Guide to the 50th Anniversary Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; 2014.

2 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking 50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; 2014.

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