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Tobacco Smoke Exposure Leads to Increased Respiratory Symptoms


A new study in the September 2018 Pediatrics found that teens exposed to tobacco smoke were at a higher risk of developing respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath and a dry cough at night. The study, “Adolescent Tobacco Smoke Exposure, Respiratory Symptoms, and EmergencyDepartment Utilization,” published online Aug. 6, also reported a higher number of visits to the emergency department or urgent care among smoke-exposed teens. The study analyzed 7,389 nonsmoking adolescents who did not have an asthma diagnosis and either lived with a smoker; were exposed in the home to tobacco smoke; or had been exposed to tobacco smoke for an hour or more within the prior seven days. Researchers found all three categories of tobacco smoke exposure increased the risk of having a higher number of emergency department or urgent care visits. The different smoke exposure types uniquely increased the adolescents’ risk of symptoms that included shortness of breath; difficulty exercising; wheezing during or after exercise; and a dry cough at night. The study participants were less likely to report very good or excellent overall and physical health, and were more likely to report missing school due to illness. Despite significant progress in tobacco control, over one-third (35%) of U.S. nonsmoking adolescents without asthma were exposed to tobacco smoke for an hour or more within the prior seven days, according to the study. 


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds