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Secondhand Smoke and Absenteeism

Exposure to Secondhand Smoke Increases Absenteeism
By Mommy MD Guide Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH

Children who live in homes where they’re exposed to cigarette smoke miss more days of school than children who live in smoke-free homes, according to the results of a new, nationwide study* published in the online edition of Pediatrics.

Scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital found that children who live with smokers have higher rates of respiratory illnesses caused by second-hand smoke. Their research suggests that among children ages 6 to 11 who live with smokers, one quarter to one third of school absences are due to household smoking. Currently, an estimated one-third of U.S. children live in homes with at least one smoker.

The researchers also calculated the potential costs associated with caring from children who are absent from school due to illnesses related to cigarette smoke exposure. These costs included lost income for parents without paid time off and the costs to employers of the absent workers. Not to mention the cost of taking the child to the doctor’s office or emergency department, the cost of medicines, and the cost of additional child care. On a national basis, these absences result in $227 million in lost wages and time for caregivers or their employers annually.

If you smoke or if you live with a smoker, your children aren’t as healthy as they could be. They’re also missing more school days than they should, and this can significantly impact their education—both now and in the future.

This is another great reason to kick the habit. You and your children will be healthier—and smarter.

*D. E. Levy, J. P. Winickoff, N. A. Rigotti. School Absenteeism Among Children Living With Smokers. Pediatrics, 2011; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2011-1067


The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.