Environmental Tobacco Smoke Exposure During Travel Affects Adults With Asthma
NORTHBROOK, Ill., Sept. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure has been linked to many adverse health effects, ranging from asthma exacerbation to eye irritation to lung cancer. According to a new study by the University of Califor
The study, which is reported in the September edition of CHEST, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians, looked at 374 nonsmoking adults with asthma in California. Because California state law prohibits smoking in the workplace and most public places, travel often is the only time nonsmoking residents who do not live with a smoker are exposed to ETS. The study examined the prevalence and short-term health effects of ETS, including symptoms attributed to ETS, respiratory problems, and extra inhaled
medicine use and asthma exacerbations while traveling outside of California over the last 12 months. Almost one-third (30%) reported ETS exposure during travel, with the most common complaint being ETS-related coughing, wheezing or
chest tightness (66%).
"The health impact of intermittent ETS exposure during travel has not been examined previously," said lead study author Mark D. Eisner MD, MPH, FCCP. "As smoking has become quite restricted in California, ETS exposure during travel has become a more important source of exposure. Our findings tell us that this vulnerable group -- people with asthma -- were frequently exposed to ETS during travel. Those who were exposed had a high prevalence of sensory irritation symptoms and respiratory symptoms."
Study subjects were recruited from a random sample of patients from allergy, pulmonary, and family practices in Northern California. Of the
subjects that indicated ETS exposure, more than half (54%) said it caused exacerbation of asthma symptoms and 55 percent indicated extra inhaled asthma medication use. Also, the subjects who are not regularly exposed to ETS reported greater ETS-related irritations including eye (58%) and nose (58%) irritation compared to those regularly exposed.
"Prohibiting smoking in California has reduced ETS exposure for state residents," said ACCP President-elect Udaya B.S. Prakash, MD, FCCP. "Hopefully, these findings will emphasize the effect smoking in public places has for adults with respiratory problems such as asthma."