Transcript for CDC Telebriefing: New Vital Signs Report - Secondhand smoke exposure kills

Press Briefing Transcript

Tuesday, February 3, 2015 at 12:00 E.T.

Please Note:This transcript is not edited and may contain errors.

OPERATOR:  Welcome and thank you for standing by. At this time, all participants are in listen only mode.  During the question and answer please press star and one. Today’s conference is being recorded.  If you have objections, you may disconnect. I’ll turn this over to Tom Skinner. Thank you, you may begin. 

TOM SKINNER:  Thank you, Candy. Thank you all for joining us for the release of CDCs release of the 2015 vital signs reports on disparity and nonsmokers exposure to secondhand smoke United States, 1999 to 2012.  With us is CDC director, Tom Frieden. He’ll have remarks, then be joined by Dr. Brian King from the CDC office on Smoking and Health. 

TOM FRIEDEN:  Good morning or afternoon everyone, thank you so much for joining us and I’m Tom Frieden, CDC director.  CDC works 24/7 to save lives and protect people. One of the ways we do this is by highlighting health threats for people, and what they can do about it. Today, we are releasing a vital signs report on an update secondhand smoking exposure in the U.S. I’ll give you the bottom line upfront, Secondhand smoke can kill and too many Americans, 58 million people and particularly too many children, two out of every five children ages 3-11 are still exposed to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke is dangerous to the health of nonsmokers. Today’s vital signs report highlights data from what is called NHANES, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey that was collected between 1999 and 2012. NHANES is the gold standard for this type of information. It shows what’s really happening in this country. Here is what we found.  Cigarette smoking has decreased and smoke-free laws have increased, still 1 in 4 nonsmokers and 40% of children, 58 million people overall are being exposed. Secondhand smoke is a Class A carcinogen. It causes cancer in humans and the surgeon general says there is no risk free exposure to secondhand smoke. With the media information that was sent out, we included a graphic from the surgeon general’s report which outlines the causes of disease and death that are proven from secondhand smoke. People may not appreciate that it isn’t merely a nuisance; it causes disease and death from ear infections and lung infections to sudden infant death syndrome, stroke, heart attack, lung cancer and reproductive effects in women. This is from exposure to secondhand smoke and there may well be other disease entities caused by exposure that are currently considered possible or probable, but not definitively documented. Secondhand smoke is estimated to cause the deaths of 400 babies in this country from sudden infant death syndrome. It’s dangerous to adult nonsmokers killing 41,000 a year through heart disease and lung cancer.  These deaths are preventable. Some groups have higher rates than the population as a whole.  This includes 40% of children between ages 3 and 11. Nearly half of all African American nonsmokers, including nearly 70% of black children ages 3-11. More than 40% of people who live below the poverty line and over a third of people who live in rental housing.  The home remains the major source of secondhand smoke exposure for children and children are vulnerable to adverse health effects from this exposure.  Smoke-free law that prohibit smoking in bars, restaurants and workplaces are an important start.  28 states and the District of Columbia and 700 communities across the country adopted smoke-free laws that cover these three locations. Recently, New Orleans joined the list of U.S. cities that made all restaurants, bars, private work sites and casinos smoke free. It’s getting easier to breathe in the big easy. We have also seen tremendous increases in the number of college and university campuses that have gone smoke free. But, still, only half of the population is protected by comprehensive smoke-free laws. Another important step is smoke-free homes where there’s been a significant progress on the part of individual families. The percentage of smoke-free households in the U.S. nearly doubled from 43% to 83%. When smoking occurs in apartments or common areas in a building, the smoke seeps into other units.  Residents who make their own unit smoke free can be exposed. Some communities across the country have made strides with 100% smoke free public multiunit housing in San Antonio, Boston and Los Angeles as well as 20 housing authorities in the state of Maine.  The United States department of housing and urban development has actively encouraged smoke-free policies in housing. As a result, several hundred countries are taking steps to adopt smoke-free policies in multiunit buildings. Several communities have adopted smoke-free laws covering private rate multiunit housing. This has been found to reduce costs both because of renovation and cleaning. The surgeon general found restricting smoking to certain indoor spaces, use zing fans or air fresheners or opening windows will not fully protect nonsmokers. The bottom line is the best way to reduce harm from secondhand smoke is to reduce smoking.  If a smoker would like to quit, there are free resources available to help. Call 800-quick-now. We want to reduce secondhand smoke, but also reduce firsthand smoke and we know that more than two-thirds of smokers want to quit.  We can also decrease secondhand smoke exposure by educating residents as well as others about the importance of smoke-free multiunit housing. There’s a lot of work left to be done on tobacco control. This vital signs report will help spread the word on the dangers of secondhand smoke and how people can protect themselves and their families.  Before we take questions, I would like to ask Brian King to give additional details about the report. 

BRIAN KING:  Thank you, Dr. Frieden. I want to provide more specific details from the findings in this vital signs report. Overall, the prevalence of secondhand smoke in U.S. smokers 3 and older declined from 52.5% in 1999 to 25.3% in 2011 and 2012. There are several factors that could have contributed.  First, over the past 25 years, almost 700 communities, 26 states and the District of Columbia have implemented comprehensive smoke-free policies prohibiting smoking in restaurants and bars. As of today, almost half of U.S. residents are currently covered by the policies. Second, the proportion of U.S. households that have adopted voluntary smoke free home rules has double. Eight in ten U.S. households have smoke-free rules. Finally, cigarette smoking has declined among youth and adults. However, despite this, 58 million nonsmokers in the U.S., including 15 million children between 3 and 11 years of age are exposed to secondhand smoke. Today’s report confirms progress is not uniform across the board and disparities remain. 2011 to 2012, 1 in 3 adolescence were exposed to secondhand smoke compared to adults 20 years and older, where it was nearly twice higher. It was higher among non-Hispanic blacks and non-Hispanic whites and persons living below the poverty level. By housing status, it was higher among those who rented houses at 36.8% compared to 19 % who own their houses. The findings in this report journal score the importance of efforts to reduce secondhand smoke exposure to protect nonsmokers from the known and preventable health hazard. This could be accomplished if more can make their homes smoke free and communities, landlords have more smoke-free multiunit housing. 

TOM SKINNER:  Candy, I believe we are ready for questions, I believe. 

OPERATOR:  To ask a question, press star 1.  Record your name and affiliation. For all questions or comments, press star one. If you would like to withdrawal press star 2. Please stand by for your first question. 

OPERATOR: Thank you, again, for questions or comments, press star 1.  Thank you.  Currently, we are showing no questions. 

TOM SKINNER:  All right. Candy, thank you. We’ll have Dr. Frieden conclude our call by reiterating some bottom line messages and should you have further questions, you can call the CDC press office at 404-639-3286. So, Dr. Frieden, can you conclude our call, please? 

TOM FRIEDEN:  Thanks very much. Appreciate people joining and the interest in this issue.  Tobacco is a preventable cause of death in this country and secondhand smoke continues to expose too many people.  58 million people to secondhand smoke. That includes 40% of children ages 3 to 11 and 1 in 3 adolescence. These are preventable health harms and going smoke free can reduce the incidents of a wide range of health problems and also in multiunit housing, reduce cleaning and renovation costs. The harms caused by secondhand smoke are completely preventable. We have made progress, but we have more to make. Thank you all for joining us. 

TOM SKINNER: Thank you, candy. Once again, this concludes our call. Reporters can call the press office at 404-639-3286 if they have additional. Thank you. 

OPERATOR:  Thank you for your participation. You may disconnect at this time.  


Page last reviewed: February 3, 2015