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Article Equates Kids' Exposure to Secondhand Smoke With Abuse

A University of North Carolina Medical School professor says secondhand smoke causes many diseases in children, and exposing them to smoke should therefore be treated as abusive behavior.

Despite of warnings by physicians that exposure to secondhand smoke leads to respiratory illnesses, many children around the world live in environments where adults regularly smoke.

An article in the journal Annals of Family Medicine says it is time for doctors to start treating children’s exposure to secondhand smoke as abuse, much like physical punishment or neglect.

The author, professor Adam Goldstein of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, says secondhand smoke causes many diseases in children, including asthma and pneumonia. He adds that there are no safe levels of exposure.

The article coincides with the latest call by the World Health Organization director-general for increasing the fight against tobacco companies in their attempts to undermine anti-tobacco laws.

Speaking at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Abu Dhabi, Dr. Margaret Chan warned that the fight would be tough, but "we should not give up until we make sure the tobacco industry goes out of business."