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Outcry Over Kids in Smoke-Filled Cars

The health risks are prompting more calls to ban smoking in cars carrying kids.

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By Fionna Agomuoh

02/06/12

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One in five high school and middle school students is being exposed to cigarette smoke while riding in a car, according to a Centers for Disease Control report released today. Inhaling second-hand smoke makes teens and pre-teens more likely to develop breathing problems, allergy symptoms and other ailments. As initiatives to ban smoking in public places spread, more people confine their smoking to private places like homes and cars. And the more small, enclosed space of a car makes smoke inhalation there potentially more dangerous than in a bar or a restaurant. "The car is the only source of exposure for some of these children, so if you can reduce that exposure, it's definitely advantageous for health," says Brian King, the report's lead author. The study found that 22% of adolescents were exposed to cigarette smoke in a car in 2009. That represents a drop of almost 50% compared with 2000, but King insists that the numbers are still too high. As the CDC urges parents not to smoke in cars and homes, many states are proposing bans in cars carrying children.

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