responsible for approximately 3,000
lung cancer deaths annually in U.S. nonsmokers. Secondhand smoke or environmental
tobacco smoke (ETS) accounts for up to 62,000 heart disease deaths annually. The Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) classified ETS as a Group A carcinogen under their carcinogen
assessment guidelines. The EPA reserves this classification for substances shown
to cause cancer in humans.
In children, ETS increases the risk of lower respiratory tract infections
such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Up to 300,000 of these cases occur annually in
infants and young children. ETS is also a risk factor for
new cases of asthma in children who have not previously displayed symptoms. ETS causes low birth
weight, sudden infant death syndrome, nasal sinus cancer and heart disease morbidity
ETS increases the prevalence of fluid in the middle ear, a sign of
chronic middle ear disease; irritates the upper respiratory tract;
is associated with a small but significant reduction in lung function; and increases the frequency
of episodes and severity of symptoms in asthmatic children. Up to 1,000,000 asthmatic
children have their condition worsened by exposure to ETS each year.