A new worry for smokers' families: 'thirdhand smoke'

A new worry for smokers’ families: ‘thirdhand smoke’

ORIGINAL ARTICLE by Carmen Rodriguez of KHOU.com HERE

Michael Miller, 44, does what most smokers do to protect his sons and daughter from the fumes of his Marlboro Ultra Lights.  He takes it outside.

After his 7 a.m. coffee, he walks out of his home in Cincinnati to smoke his first cigarette of the day.  Then, as a branch manager of a road safety construction company, he smokes dozens more on street curbs.

The tobacco never appears when Miller is coaching on the baseball or football field, or when he’s in the car with his children.  But when he’s alone on the road, he sometimes rolls the windows down and lights up.

“I know [cigarettes are] bad,” Miller said.  “I know I need to quit.”

New findings highlight the scientific community’s efforts to identify potential dangers of another byproduct of cigarettes that may slip past Miller’s precautions and affect his kids:  “thirdhand smoke.”

A recent study in the journal Tobacco Control found high levels of nicotine on the hands of children of smokers, raising concerns about thirdhand smoke, a name given to the nicotine and chemical residue left behind from cigarette and cigar smoke that can cling to skin, hair, clothes, rugs, and walls.  This thin film can be picked up by touch or released back into the air when distributed.

The researchers examined 25 children who arrived at an emergency room with breathing problems associated with secondhand smoke exposure.

They discovered the average level of nicotine on the children’s hands was more than three times higher than the level of nicotine found on the hands of non-smoking adults who live with smokers.  They said nicotine on the skin of a nonsmoker is a good proxy to measure exposure to thirdhand smoke.

“Because nicotine is specific to tobacco, its presence on children’s hands may serve as a proxy of tobacco smoke pollution in their immediate environment,” the researchers wrote.

The high nicotine readings on the kids’ hands, coupled with the “light smoking” habits of the majority of their parents, signaled to lead author E. Melinda Mahabee-Gittens that these toxins could have arrived from a source other than direct access to cigarette smoke.

“Clearly they’re getting it from somewhere and perhaps it may be this thirdhand smoke connection,” Mahabee-Gittens said.

Children face a higher risk of developing health complications from thirdhand smoke than adults. Infants tend to spend more time indoors and can be surrounded by contaminated objects like rugs and blankets, according to a 2004 study written by Georg Matt, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University who co-authored the study and has researched thirdhand smoke. As they grow, an infant’s propensity to place their hands in their mouth increases the likelihood of the young ingesting the toxic residue.

Thirdhand smoke can linger in an area long after a cigarette or cigar is snuffed out — up to five years, Matt said.

“Tobacco smoke doesn’t go up in the air and it disappears and it’s gone,” Matt said. “That’s the illusion.”

The negative health consequences of secondhand smoke are well-established.

Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that since 1964 at least 2.5 million nonsmokers have died of diseases linked to their exposure to cigarette smoke.

In contrast, thirdhand smoke research gained popularity only a decade ago, but multiple studies suggest the mix of toxins can lead to adverse health outcomes.

“All in all, I think the evidence that we’ve gathered is basically pointing to potentially high levels of risk to young children and toddlers, and also expectant mothers,” Anwer Mujeeb, a program officer with the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program.Unfortunately, removing thirdhand smoke from a child’s environment is no easy task. The variety of compounds that make up cigarette residue react to cleaning products differently, Matt said, making it difficult to purge a space of pollutants.

Officials have attempted to curb the threat of smoke exposure by implementing tobacco bans. Forty-one states and the District of Columbia have implemented local smoke-free laws, according to the lobbying group Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights.

Although the majority of these laws are meant to address secondhand smoke exposure, an unintended benefit of the ordinances is a reduction in thirdhand smoke, said Stanton Glantz, professor of medicine and director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at University of California-San Francisco.

Reynolds American Inc., the second-largest tobacco company in the United States, declined to comment on the study. The Altria Group, the leading U.S. cigarette manufacturer, did not respond to requests for comment.

Miller is skeptical of the threat thirdhand smoke poses to his family, but he is determined to quit smoking this year on his 45th birthday in July. With the help of medicine, he hopes to break the habit his kids remind him is proven to kill.

“I think there’s far worse things that are going on than any tar on my hands,” he said.

×

Upcoming Events

Attending any of these upcoming events? Have other events to share? Let us know! Email us at NNN@ITCMI.ORG to share your event information or to get on our list serve for event updates.

 

Funding Opportunity - The Patient-Centered Research Institute (PCORI) is seeking Letters of Intent (LOIs) for Tier A projects through their Pipeline to Proposal Awards Initiative.  This program supports the development of research ideas and proposals designed by partnerships of patients, caregivers, and other healthcare stakeholders.  The deadline for submitting a letter of intent is Thursday, April 20.  The purpose of the Pipeline to Proposal (P2P) Awards program is to help people form new collaborations with the goal of developing proposals for research with sound scientific rigor and robust patient engagement.  We are interested in research teams that include patients, caregivers, clinicians, and other healthcare stakeholders, as well as researchers.  KEY INFORMATION:  1. Letter of Intent deadline: April 20, 2017, 2. Application deadline: June 30, 2017, 3. Funding announcement: Pipeline to Proposal Awards Tier A Pre-Engagement/Community Projects, 4. PCORI provides up to $50,000 over the project term, which can last up to 12 months, 5. More about the Pipeline to Proposal Awards Initiative.

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY - Empowered Communities for a Healthier Nation Initiative Funding - Deadline:  August 1, 2017, 2 p.m. PDT - The Office of Minority Health (OMH) at the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is proud to announce the new competitive cooperative agreement Funding Opportunity Announcement!  The Empowered Communities for a Healthier Nation Initiative seeks to reduce significant health disparities impacting racial and ethnic minorities and/or disadvantaged populations through implementing evidence-based strategies with the greatest potential for impact.  The program is intended to serve residents in communities disproportionately impacted by the opioid epidemic; childhood/adolescent obesity; and serious mental illness.  For more information read the full announcement.  Download the detailed funding opportunity description.  A technical assistance webinar is also available online.

CONFERENCE - 2017 CDC National Cancer Conference, Visualizing the Future through Prevention, Innovation, and Communication - August 14-16, 2017 - Crowne Plaza Atlanta Perimeter at Ravinia, 4355 Ashford-Dunwoody Road, Atlanta, Georgia 30346 - The conference theme, "Visualizing the Future Through Prevention, innovation, and Communication," represents the opportunity for translating research into practice to improve public health.  A wide variety of local, state, territorial, federal, academic, national, and community-based cancer prevention and control programs will be represented, creating an excellent opportunity for you to meet partners from around the country.  LEARN MORE

SAVE THE DATE - CDC Conference - August 15-17, 2017 - 2017 National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media - Atlanta, Georgia - FULL DETAILS HERE.

Spirit of EAGLES National Conference "Changing Patterns of Cancer in Native Communities" - September 21 - 24, 2017 - Niagra Falls, NY - For more information regarding the conference, visit www.nativeamericanprograms.net or contact Marcy Averill at averill.marcy@mayo.edu.

Tenth AACR Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically UnderservedSeptember 25-28, 2017, Sheraton Atlanta Hotel, Atlanta, Georgia - The AACR Cancer Health Disparities conferences advance the understanding and, ultimately, help to eliminate the disparities in cancer that represent a major public health problem in our country. By promoting the exchange of novel ideas and information between a wide range of professionals from academia, industry, government, and the community, these conferences harness the potential and maximize the many opportunities for bringing research on health disparities from bench to bedside or community, and back again. The goals of these conferences have been to bring together scientists and other professionals working in a variety of disciplines to discuss the latest findings in the field and to stimulate the development of new research in cancer health disparities. Make plans now to join us for this exciting program. - Continuing Medical Education Activity AMA PRA Category 1  CreditsTM available