Smoking, Food Insecurity, and Tobacco Control

Extensive research has documented the harmful impact of smoking on adult and children’s health.Smoking causes numerous diseases and harms nearly every organ in the body, while exposure to secondhand smoke causes heart disease and lung cancer in nonsmokers. Maternal smoking during pregnancy increases the likelihood of premature birth, still birth, and low-birth-weight birth, as well as a number of other complications during pregnancy. Infants exposed to secondhand smoke are twice as likely to die of sudden infant death syndrome as those who are not exposed. Secondhand smoke significantly increases children’s risk of acute respiratory infections and ear problems and for children with asthma, increases the frequency and severity of asthma attacks. Children’s and adolescents’ exposure to secondhand smoke is associated with various psychopathologies, including conduct disorder, aggression, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.┬áIn addition, tobacco use imposes a substantial economic toll, from higher health care costs to lower productivity. Given the greater concentration of tobacco use in low-income households, these households bear a disproportionate share of the health and economic burden of tobacco use.

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November 2008

Author: Frank J. Chaloupka