From a tender age I can recall pinning that bright red ribbon to my chest, my five-year-old ears yearning to catch every word of Officer Gill’s explanation of the dangers associated with smoking and tobacco use. I remember years of assemblies, programs, and demonstrations illustrating black gunk build-up and balloons never to be inflated again. These instances, along with countless words of warning from my mother, were quickly absorbed into my childhood mind leading me to conclude at a very young age: I would never smoke.
I was fortunate enough to be raised in a home where those around me also made the same decision that life was short enough already to have the urge to light up. With this cigarette-free environment, I believed I grew up far from the dangers and adverse health effects that result from cigarette smoke. Unfortunately, I could not have been more mistaken.
Recently, journalist Andrew M. Seaman highlighted a study conducted at University of California, San Francisco. A study that exposes an issue affecting the children in the Bay Area’s very own backyard: secondhand smoke. Using samples originally collected to determine lead levels in the blood of 496 children (ages one to four), researchers decided to use the remaining blood to test for cotinine- a chemical our bodies produce when exposed to nicotine. Over half (55%) of the samples tested had a detectable amount of cotinine found in the blood.
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