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Apartments share tobacco smoke

Children in nonsmoking families have higher levels of secondhand exposure if they live in multifamily dwellings

Children who grow up in apartment buildings are more likely to inhale secondhand tobacco smoke than are kids living in detached homes, a new study finds — even if no one in their household ever lights a cigarette.

“This is the first study to show significant evidence of increased tobacco-smoke exposure among children who live in multi-unit housing,” reports pediatrician Jonathan Winickoff of the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children in Boston, who directed the study. Compared to children who grew up in detached houses, his team finds that those living in apartments excreted 45 percent more cotinine, which is a marker of nicotine exposure. The findings were released online December 13 in Pediatrics.

“Our new study is really the last link in the chain of evidence demonstrating the need for smoke-free buildings,” Winickoff says, “because it proves that children are absorbing that smoke.”

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