Tobacco Use and Smoke Exposure in Children: New Trends, Harm, and Strategies to Improve Health Outcomes

Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2017 Aug;17(8):55. doi: 10.1007/s11882-017-0723-0.


Purpose of review: Every day in the USA, approximately 4000 adolescents begin smoking and the adolescent brain is particularly susceptible to nicotine addiction. We present current pediatric trends on tobacco use and exposures, various new products used by adolescents, the adverse biological and behavioral effects of tobacco use and exposures, and tobacco control strategies to eliminate tobacco-related illnesses and deaths in the pediatric population.

Recent findings: Twelve-20% of women continue to smoke during pregnancy. New research reveals cognitive differences and behavior-control disorders are seen in elementary school children from prenatal and postnatal exposures. Traditional cigarette smoking has decreased in adolescents; novel and appealing tobacco products have captured their attention, particularly electronic cigarettes, and rates double and often triple from middle to high school. Children with asthma and those living in multi-housing units have higher rates of secondhand smoke exposure than non-asthmatics and children living in single-home dwellings. There is no "safe or risk-free" level of tobacco use or exposure. Tobacco use and exposure in childhood and adolescence must be decreased using evidenced-based strategies to improve child health.

Keywords: Biological effects of tobacco; Children and youth; Effective prevention strategies; Smoke exposure; Tobacco use.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular System / drug effects
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / drug effects
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Respiratory System / drug effects
  • Schools
  • Smoke
  • Tobacco Products / adverse effects
  • Tobacco Products / economics
  • Tobacco Products / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution* / adverse effects
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution* / prevention & control
  • Tobacco Use* / adverse effects
  • Tobacco Use* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Tobacco Use* / prevention & control
  • Tobacco Use* / trends


  • Smoke
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution