Half of world's kids are endangered 'passive smokers'

More than seven million people die of cancer in an average year, and 11 million are diagnosed with it.

jp.services1 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
A plea to parents and other adults not to expose children to tobacco smoke has been issued by the International Union Against Cancer (UICC), whose members - including the Israel Cancer Association (ICA) - are marking International Cancer Awareness Day on Monday. The only international non-governmental organization dedicated solely to global control of cancer, the UICC says that half of all children around the world are passively exposed to toxic cigarette smoke. More than seven million people die of cancer in an average year, and 11 million are diagnosed with it. But four in 10 cases can be prevented by not smoking, keeping away from tobacco smoke and adopting healthy lifestyles. According to an ICA survey released Sunday, 92 percent of Israeli mothers who smoke know that smoking in the vicinity of their children harms their health. Only 2% of smoking mothers admitted smoking in very close proximity to their children; 22.5% said they smoke when their children are in the room, but are careful "to do it not close to them." However, smoking in rooms or vehicles where children are poses significant dangers to their health, the ICA says. The Health Ministry has not done anything to pass legislation that would make it illegal to smoke in a vehicle where children are passengers - even though some US states and other countries have done so - or to bar cigarette vending machines that are easily accessible to children. UICC director Isabel Mortara noted that "the types of cancer caused by tobacco lead a long list of preventible dangerous diseases." Every year, she added, many thousands of people who never smoked die from diseases connective to passive smoking." ICA director-general Miri Ziv added that 85% of lung cancer cases are directly due to smoking. "We call on all Israeli families to declare their homes and cars smoke-free." Ziv also urged parents to advise children to keep away from smoke at all times and in all locations. According to the UICC, the countries with the widest child exposure to tobacco smoke - nearing 100% - are Serbia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Georgia (in the former Soviet Union) and Croatia. Tobacco smoke in rooms settles on surfaces and in dust and continues to endanger health even after the cigarette is out. Tobacco smoke significantly raises the risk of cot death, ear infections, slow lung development, bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma and cough in children exposed to it. Children are more sensitive to tobacco smoke, the organization said, as children breathe faster and are more active than adults, and the amount of toxin from tobacco is proportionately greater because their bodies are smaller.