SmokingThe American Heart Association expressed a statement recommending a “zero tolerance” approach for children’s exposure to secondhand smoke.

Dr. Geetha Raghuveer, pediatric cardiologist and statement panel chair, stated in an AHA news release, “Parents should consider making their children’s environment smoke-free because cigarette smoke exposure is harmful to children’s long-term heart health and may shorten life expectancy.”

She added, “Children exposed to cigarette smoke may develop early heart disease as adults, due to poorly functioning, stiffer blood vessels. Some babies who were exposed to cigarette smoke while still in the womb may be at risk for sudden death during infancy.”

The panel noted that secondhand smoke damages arteries and connects to other heart disease factors like high cholesterol, obesity, and insulin resistance, which usually leads to type 2 diabetes.

Researchers also said children of smokers are likely to become smokers as they get older.

The report indicated an estimated 24 million nonsmoking children and teens experience secondhand smoke in the United States alone. It was also said this exposure comes mainly from parents who consume tobacco products.

Raghuveer, also a professor of pediatrics at Children’s Mercy Hospital and Clinics, explained, “Encouraging adults to quit smoking is a cost-effective and health-enhancing strategy that could benefit both adults and children.” She also recommended raising cigarette taxes to discourage tobacco use and decrease childhood exposure.

With this knowledge, doctors should counsel and reach out to help families protect and keep their children away from secondhand smoke.

Secondhand smoke can destroy your children’s future. Keep them away from it and stop smoking for your health and theirs.