New data from the CDC reveals that close to half of all middle and high school students who have never smoked still reported exposure to secondhand smoke.

Israel T. Agaku, DMD, of the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues, found that among students who were self-described “never users” of tobacco products in grades 6 through 12, there were 48.0% reporting secondhand smoke exposure in one or more locations (such as home, in a vehicle, school, work, and public areas).

The most common locations for secondhand smoke exposure were “indoor/outdoor public areas,” with over a third (35.2%) of never-smoker students reporting exposure in the last 30 days, they wrote in Pediatrics.

More than a third of never-tobacco users (35.2%) reported smoke exposure in indoor/outdoor public areas, followed by at work (27.1%) and at school (16.8%). There were 23.3% of these never-users who reported daily exposure in at least one of these settings. Of those, half were exposed in the home (52%), followed by 22.1% in their vehicles — though these sources were not mutually exclusive.

Deborah Ossip, PhD, of the University of Rochester Medical Center, said that the data emphasized the importance of clinicians triple screening their patients for smoke exposure (asking patients if they smoke and if smoking is allowed in their homes or vehicles).

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