November is Lung Cancer Awareness month and on November 17th, thousands of smokers across the United States will join together for The Great American Smokeout. The American Cancer Society uses this day to encourage smokers to quit, make a plan to quit, or put a plan into motion. If you smoke, taking this step will not only improve your health, but also lead to a healthier life for your children too. Secondhand and even third-hand smoke is proving to be dangerous to everyone, but especially children.

Respiratory Ailments

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, secondhand smoke is extremely harmful to your child's health. Young children inhale up to 60 times per minute compared to an adult's 15 times. With each breath she takes, secondhand smoke puts her at a higher risk for asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, and ear infections. Secondhand smoke causes up to 300,000 respiratory tract infections in children under 18 months of age each year, resulting in up to 15,000 hospitalizations.


Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is a common fear of many parents, but maternal smoking is now known to be the major risk factor leading to SIDS. In fact, many infants who die from SIDS have larger amounts of nicotine in their lungs than other children.

Cognitive Development

According to a study published in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal, secondhand smoke has also been shown to affect a child's performance on tests that gauge reading, math, and reasoning skills. The higher the level of a nicotine byproduct cotinine in a child's body, the lower the scores. The study showed that 33 million American children suffer learning deficits thanks to secondhand smoke both at home and in public.

Behavioral Problems

A study published in the July issue of Pediatrics found that children who are exposed to secondhand smoke have a 50% higher chance of developing not just one, but two or more behavioral problems including bullying, oppositional defiance, and ADHD.


Let's not forget about cancer. Secondhand smoke has been classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a known carcinogen. Each year, 3,000 nonsmoking adults die as a result of lung cancer from secondhand smoke. In fact, living with a smoker increases a person's risk of lung cancer by up to 30%, according to the U.S. Surgeon General. But it isn't just lung cancer; some research shows that secondhand smoke increases the risk of leukemia, lymphoma, and brain tumors in children.

If you smoke, your children face numerous health challenges. Consider quitting for their sake by joining The Great American Smokeout on November 17. You will be giving yourself and your children the gift of more birthdays.