A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that many kids are still exposed to secondhand smoke, despite significant drop in rates of exposure due to nationwide enforcement of smoke-free laws. Overall 40% of kids were found to breathing in secondhand smoke. However, the proportion increases among black with 70% of black children and nearly half of black non-smokers being exposed to secondhand smoke.

Children in the age group of 3 to 11 years were found to have the highest exposure. They are often exposed to smoke in their homes. The CDC report speculated that sluggish decline in children’s exposure to secondhand smoke might be attributed to slower fall in the adult smoking rate.

Federal health authorities reported that U.S. nonsmokers’ exposure to secondhand smoke declined to 25% in 2012 from 53% in 2000. Exposure was determined by testing a marker of nicotine, cotinine in the blood.

The report attributes this decline to smoking ban implemented in public places across the 26 states and the District of Columbia covering bars, restaurants and offices in more than 700 cities. This ultimately resulted in lower acceptability of smoking in public. In addition, the share of U.S. homes that stopped smoking also increased to 83% in 2011 compared to 43% in 1993.

The report mentioned that exposure was higher among people living in poverty, with 43% nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke compared to 21% of those who were not poor.

The exposure was also found to be higher among blacks due to societal factors as well as some biological factors suggesting slower metabolism of cotinine. About 26% of blacks were exposed to secondhand smoke at the workplaces compared to 18% of whites.

Dr. Brian King, CDC epidemiologist, credited smoke-free laws in helping slash secondhand exposure. However, he warned that prevalence is still alarmingly high.

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