What Hawaii is Doing about Secondhand Smoke

December 1, 2010, 9:07 AM HST
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A recent study was released by the World Health Organization showing that as many as 600,000 people across the globe die from secondhand smoke exposure each year. Of that number, around 379,000 die from heart disease, 165,000 from lower respiratory infections, 36,900 from asthma and 21,400 from lung cancer. It has also been estimated that only about 7.4% of the world’s population live in a smoke-free environment, which explains in part the high number of deaths due to secondhand smoke that have been discovered.

The WHO study looked at data from 192 countries to come up with their numbers. The greatest number of secondhand smoke-related deaths was found in Africa and South Asia. The study also found that children were the most vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke, with 165,000 children dying from related causes every year. Fortunately, Hawaii has already launched a program to reduce the amount of secondhand smoke on the islands and perhaps reverse some of these dismal numbers.

The Tobacco Prevention and Education Program

The Hawaii State Department of Health has launched the Tobacco Prevention and Education Program to reduce the number of smokers in the islands, as well as the number of residents exposed to secondhand smoke every year. The agency released a Clearinghouse of Tobacco Prevention Resource Materials to help individuals understand the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke exposure. This clearinghouse includes videos, factsheets and websites to alert people to the health risks associated with secondhand smoke and assistance in reducing its prevalence throughout the islands.

One of the fact sheets on secondhand smoke offers specifics on the state and county laws governing smoking in Hawaii. Another discusses the health risks associated with secondhand smoke, including heart disease and lung cancer. A third educates individuals about the dangers of smoking in the car and home and how it can negatively impact the health of those you love.

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Videos on secondhand smoke are geared to a wide range of audiences, from elementary-age children to adults. The videos deal with topics like secondhand smoke in the workplace, and the dangers of secondhand smoke to children. the website guide directs individuals to important resources from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC Office on Smoking and Health.

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Secondhand smoke is a serious hazard in our world today, as the WHO recently documented in their study. However, the state of Hawaii is making strides in reducing the secondhand smoke on the islands through anti-smoking laws and educational resources for its residents.

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