(LOUISVILLE, Ky - August 15, 2019) Kids who live in poverty are nearly three and a half times more likely to be exposed to secondhand cigarette smoke than their counterparts in high-income households, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination study, released by the National Center for Health Statistics (see graph below). Nearly 55 percent of kids ages 3 to 17 living below the federal poverty level were exposed to secondhand smoke from 2013 to 2016, compared to 16 percent of kids living in households with incomes at or above 400 percent of the poverty level. Black youth at all income levels had the highest levels of exposure at 61.8 percent.

Secondhand smoke exposure is defined by the prevalence of serum cotinine, a metabolite of nicotine, in their blood, urine or saliva. After declining for decades following the 1980s, these percentages have remained steady in recent years.

Following is a statement from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky regarding this study:

"These children and teens are sicker, they miss more days of school, and they're at higher risk for heart disease, stroke and lung cancer as adults," said Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. "One of the most important health benefits of Kentucky's new tobacco-free schools law is that it reduces kids' exposure to secondhand smoke where they spend a significant chunk of their time, both during the school day and at after-school events. We urge every Kentucky school district to move quickly to adopt and implement a tobacco-free policy in compliance with the new law."


About the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
Funded by an endowment, the mission of the nonpartisan Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky is to address the unmet health needs of Kentuckians by developing and influencing policy, improving access to care, reducing health risks and disparities, and promoting health equity. Since the Foundation opened its doors in 2001, it has invested nearly $28 million in health policy research, advocacy, and demonstration project grants across the Commonwealth Follow the Foundation on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and visit our website at www.healthy-ky.org.

Media Contacts:
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Alexa Kerley
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