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What are the dangers of secondhand smoke?
Q: We live with my daughter's grandparents, and her grandfather smokes. What effect is this having on my daughter, and what problems will it cause in the long run?
A: Michael, thank you for your question about the dangers of secondhand smoke. Unfortunately, your daughter and millions of other children are exposed to secondhand smoke every day.

Secondhand smoke is loaded with chemicals that are harmful to children and adults. Young children, however, are at greatest risk because their lungs are still developing. Children exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to suffer from pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma and ear infections. Over the long term, your daughter is more likely to miss school because of illness, which could interfere with her education. Children and adults exposed to secondhand smoke are also more likely to develop and die from heart disease and lung cancer.

In addition to the harmful effects of her grandfather's cigarette smoke, your daughter is exposed to an unhealthy role model, which could encourage her to smoke when she grows up.

Certainly, a grandfather wants what's best for his granddaughter. Try to encourage him to limit and eventually stop smoking for everyone's sake. Urge him not to smoke around your daughter, and not to smoke in the house or the car. Encourage him to consult his physician about quitting smoking. There are many effective methods including nicotine gum and patches, acupuncture, other medications, counseling and support groups. You can get more information on quitting smoking from the American Lung Association (800) LUNG-USA and
Karen Sokal-Gutierrez M.D., M.P.H. Pediatrician