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Secondhand smoke disproportionately affects African Americans


Narrator:       This is Science Today. Despite public health policies to reduce tobacco use, the detrimental effects of secondhand smoke continue to take its toll on nonsmokers. A University of California, San Francisco, study has found that 42,000 people die each year from secondhand smoke exposure — including about 900 infants.

Max:              For adults, we looked at lung cancer and ischemic heart disease. And then for children under the age of 1, we looked at sudden infant death syndrome, respiratory conditions of the newborn and low birth weight.

Narrator:       Study leader Wendy Max, a professor of health economics, says that secondhand smoke disproportionately impacted African-American infants who were exposed because their mothers smoked while pregnant. 

Max:              I think education is very, very important and hopefully the African-American community will pay attention to the fact that they're being disproportionately affected.

Narrator:       Max's study also measured the "economic impact" of secondhand smoke and found annual deaths resulted in over $6 billion in lost productivity. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.