Secondhand smoke hits almost half of teens who don’t smoke

FILE - In this Saturday, March 2, 2013, photo, a cigarette burns in an ashtray at a home in Hayneville, Ala. A government study released on Monday, Jan. 11, 2016, shows that even though fewer U.S. teens are smoking, exposure to secondhand smoke remains a big problem. Nearly half of nonsmoking kids in middle school and high school were exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke in 2013, and rates were even higher among smokers. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

CHICAGO (AP) — A new study finds that even though fewer U.S. teens are smoking, secondhand smoke remains a big problem for them.

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say nearly half of nonsmoking kids in middle school and high school encountered secondhand tobacco smoke in 2013, and rates were even higher among smokers.

Lead researcher Israel Agaku says, “These findings are concerning because the U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that there is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure.”

Earlier studies on teens and secondhand smoke in specific places, such as cars or indoors, indicate that the problem has declined in recent years but the new research suggests it’s still affecting millions of kids.

Secondhand smoke has been linked with several illnesses in children, including breathing problems, ear infections, bronchitis and pneumonia. In adults, it has been linked with heart disease and lung cancer.

Researchers say the study results show efforts are needed to expand smoke-free zones.

The study online in Monday’s edition of the journal Pediatrics.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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