Smoke-free air: big deal for little ones

Sound the alarm … again and again … secondhand smoke is bad news for our children!

The first surgeon general’s report on the danger of tobacco was released 50 years ago in 1964! The latest 2014 surgeon general’s report, “The Health Consequences of Smoking — 50 Years of Progress,” states that there have been 20 million smoking-related deaths and 2.5 million of those deaths have been among nonsmokers.

Children are the largest group of nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke. Approximately, 60 percent of U.S. children ages 3-11 are exposed to the known carcinogens of tobacco smoke. Research studies have consistently shown that infants and children who are exposed are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), decreased lung development, more severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections, and recurrent ear infections. The California EPA released 2007 data estimating that secondhand smoke exposure contributed to 202,300 asthma attacks and 790,000 doctor appointments for ear infections. Ongoing research is being done to investigate the relationship between secondhand smoke exposure and the risk of childhood cancers, such as leukemia, lymphomas and brain tumors.

As a pediatrician, one of my responsibilities is to educate parents on the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure. However, advocating for smoke-free air goes beyond the doctor’s office; it rests with the community.

We must protect our children’s health from diseases linked to secondhand smoke exposure. Childhood diseases and potentially serious diseases as adults, such as lung cancers, heart attacks and strokes, are preventable. There are no risk-free levels of secondhand smoke exposure. According to the 2014 surgeon general’s report, eliminating smoking in indoor spaces, both private and public, is the only way to fully protect nonsmokers. Smoke-free air is a big deal … for everyone!

Dana Stewart, M.D.

Kokomo pediatrician

Just say no to live animals for Easter

Easter is almost on us, and that means baskets of treats for the kids. There are so many things to fill those baskets, but live animals shouldn’t be among them.

Chicks and rabbits are the animals usually given as gifts at this time of year to young and immature children of all ages. These “gifts” almost never live to be a year old because of mistreatment.

Small animals are easily squashed in little hands. Backs are easily broken in little hands. If people aren’t looking where they are going, it’s easy to step on and kill a small animal.

Don’t give pets as gifts. If you must give a rabbit or chick to a child, make it chocolate. It’s irresponsible and abusive to subject any animal to pain and torture.

If you give a live animal anyway, be responsible. Supervision is utmost when a child is involved. If your child just has to have one, think of the years ahead. Rabbits can live up to 15 years with proper care. Just like a dog or cat, it needs food, attention (the proper kind), doctor visits and toys and treats.

Rabbits also need a companion. Not a person, but another rabbit to bond with. They can’t be kept in small cages like they advertise in the paper. They need lots and lots and lots of room. They also need tender loving care.

Kids don’t really need a rabbit or chick. You’re the parent. It’s really OK to say no.

Susan Louks


React to this story:


Trending Video

Recommended for you