Monday, February 4, 2008

Today is World Cancer Day

Today, February 4, 2008, has been designated World Cancer Day by the World Health Organization and the International Union Against Cancer. This year’s theme is I Love My Smoke-Free Childhood. As a pediatric oncologist, I have to say, I’m 100% behind this idea. Second hand smoke is a major pediatric health problem. 700 million children - almost half of the world's youth - regularly breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke. Second hand smoke exposure leads to chronic health risks:

· Increases a baby's risk of dying suddenly from unexplained causes (SIDS)
· Contributes to low birth weight in newborns and harms lung development
· Causes bronchitis and pneumonia in young adults
· Increases risk of ear infections, asthma, coughing and wheezing among school-aged

Facts like these underlie smoking cessation laws sweeping the country. I’m proud that my home state of Maryland just recently enacted one.

Gregory Reaman, MD, the chairman of the Children’s Oncology Group, of which I am a member, said this: "As the world’s largest pediatric cancer research collaborative, the Children’s Oncology Group stands firmly with the world’s leading cancer organizations, demanding that all children have the opportunity to be raised in an environment where they are not exposed to the effects of smoking and second-hand smoke."

The fight against second hand smoke has a fascinating history. The first successful class action suit brought against the tobacco industry was brought by attorneys Stanley and Susan Rosenblatt in October 1991 in Dade County Circuit Court (Miami). The suit sought damages for diseases and deaths caused to flight attendants by exposure to second hand tobacco smoke in airline cabins. One element of the settlement of this case was the establishment of a not-for-profit medical research foundation with funding by the tobacco industry of $300 million. The Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute has already made dozens of awards, including one that was critical to the early success of my laboratory.

If you want to add your voice to those supporting the effort to eradicate tobacco smoke, click here.


Obsessedwithlife said...

Just to let you know...I borrowed part of your post but also directed people to it :). Have a great week!

Anonymous said...

I love the typical smoking parent who feels it's OK to smoke because "I smoke outside."

My reply? "Oh, good. And after you come in and shower and change clothes you can be around your child. That's so great!"

It's mean, but it makes them think (I hope).

Doctor David said...

It used to kill me when I worked in the ER and a parent would come in, reeking of smoke, with a wheezing child, and have NO IDEA what started this asthma attack. I can assure you, there were plenty of nights when I was far more mean than your comment...

Anonymous said...

Hi Doctor David,

The harmful effects of the environment alone have far reaching public health consequences.

So many environmental factors contribute to public health issues, at least this is one we can control.

Children are so vulnerable to second hand smoke. Declines in fetal and maternal health are evident from air borne and food contaminants alone - why make it worse?

Second hand smoke is another pollutant, but it is one we can eradicate - easily. It is just the responsible thing to do. What has happened to taking individual responsibility? (I know, I harp on this).

Thanks for this post and the great links.

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