CHICAGO — Texting while driving, speeding and back-seat hanky-panky aren't all that parents need to worry about when their kids are in cars: Add secondhand smoke to the list.
A report from government researchers says more than one in five high school students and middle-schoolers ride in cars while others are smoking.
This kind of secondhand smoke exposure has been linked with breathing problems and allergy symptoms, and more restrictions are needed to prevent it, the report says.
With widespread crackdowns on smoking in public, private places including homes and cars are where people encounter secondhand smoke these days. The research, from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was released online today in Pediatrics.
The study is based on national surveys done at public and private high schools and middle schools. Students were asked how often they rode in cars while someone was smoking within the past week. The most common answer was one or two days. The smoker could mean other kids or parents; the study didn't specify.
Overall, 22 percent of teens and preteens were exposed to secondhand smoke in cars in 2009, the latest data available. That figure declined gradually during the decade, from 40 percent in 2000. But still, the numbers of kids facing the risks "is certainly problematic," said CDC researcher Brian King.