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Disparities in Secondhand Smoke Exposure——United States, 1988–1994 and 1999–2004

July 11, 2008 / Vol. 57 / No. 27

MMWR Highlights

  • Overall, exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) declined markedly in the U.S. population between 1988–1994 and 1999–2004.
  • The percentage of the U.S. nonsmoking population aged 4 years and older with self-reported home SHS exposure declined from 20.9% in 1988–1994 to 10.2% in 1999–2004.
  • Although the percentage decrease in home secondhand smoke exposure from 1988–1994 to 1999–2004 was seen for persons of all ages, it was smaller in children, especially those aged 4–11 years (37.7%), compared with those aged 12–19 years (44.9%), and 20 years and older (59.8%).
  • Similarly, the percentage of the nonsmoking population with detectable serum cotinine declined from 83.9% in 1988–1994 to 46.4% in 1999–2004.
  • During 1999–2004 the percentage of nonsmokers with detectable serum cotinine remained highest for those aged 4–11 years (60.5%) and those aged 12–19 years (55.4%) compared with those aged 20 years and older (42.2%).
  • The percent decline from 1988–1994 to 1999–2004 in the prevalence of detectable serum cotinine was 28.1% for those aged 4–11 years, 35.1% for those aged 12–19 years, and 49.5% for those aged 20 years and older.
  • During 1988–1994, non-Hispanic blacks (93.7%) were more likely than non-Hispanic whites (83.2%) and Mexican Americans (77.7%) to have detectable serum cotinine.
  • However, by 1999–2004, the gap had increased between non-Hispanic blacks (70.5%) with detectable serum cotinine and non-Hispanic whites (43.0%) and Mexican Americans (40.0%).
  • The percentage of nonsmokers with detectable serum cotinine was inversely associated with family income in both periods, and the decline over time was smaller for the lowest income groups compared with the higher income groups.
  • During both periods, prevalence of SHS exposure in the home was highest among non-Hispanic blacks and for persons with lower incomes.
  • For both periods, self-reported home SHS exposure was not different in males than in females, but a higher percentage of males had detectable serum cotinine than did females.
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