Kendall Riley: For your children's sake: A new year's resolution to stop smoking

Published: Monday, December 31, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 11:55 p.m.

As a physician and advocate for children, one of the most troublesome things I have seen is children in the backseat of cars, with the windows rolled up, inhaling the secondhand smoke from their parents' burning cigarettes.

Numerous studies have established the harmful risks associated with inhaled carcinogens from secondhand smoke. The pollutants from the lit end of the cigarette that children breathe in are more harmful than those the smoker inhales.

Children are exposed to these dangers even when the car windows are rolled down or when a person smokes in a separate room. Several states, including Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Maine, and Oregon, have banned smoking in cars when children are present.

Children exposed to the burning smoke from cigarettes have a higher incidence of ear infections and asthma, and an increased risk of lung cancer and other diseases. More recent studies have established disordered sleeping patterns that can be linked to behavioral problems and declining school performance in children exposed to second-hand smoke.

It is ultimately the adult's choice to smoke, but the children around them are robbed of this choice that has negative impacts on their health. In Florida, about 30 percent of children have household members who smoke.

Let's not subject our children to the poor choices we make. There are numerous helpful (and free!) resources to help you or someone you know quit smoking. A great place to start is or by calling the Quitline at 1-800-Quit-Now.

There isn't a better time than now to stop smoking as we start making our New Year's resolutions.

Kendall Riley lives in Gainesville.

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