Secondhand Smoke Blunts Learning!

At the May 2002 meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, researchers from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital reported their research showing that secondhand smoke damages learning abilities, weakening general reasoning, math, and especially reading.

They measured cotinine levels (a nicotine byproduct) in thousands of children. On average, the higher the cotinine levels, the worse the test scores. The effect was seen in children whose levels reflect a small exposure – such as living with one parent smoking less than a pack a day.

An estimated 13 million children in the US are exposed to enough tobacco smoke to affect their learning.

Smoking only when the child is not home reduces tobacco exposure only slightly. Only smoking outside lowers the risk much more – especially if the parent wears a sweater or jacket while smoking that is removed before coming indoors.

Children deserve to learn about our world without an adult-created mental fog.

Published on: May 08, 2002
About the Author
Photo of Dr. Alan Greene
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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