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Health, Science, Environment

In Missouri, rural male workers at highest risk from secondhand smoke

Bills sponsored by Ald. Dionne Flowers, D-2nd Ward, would boost the age to purchase tobacco products in the city to 21
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A higher percentage of Missouri's workers are exposed to secondhand cigarette smoke than in any other state.

A 2007 telephone survey funded by the Missouri Foundation for Health looked at the tobacco use, health, and demographics of close to 24,000 indoor Missouri workers.  About 12 percent were exposed to secondhand smoke, compared to about 7 percent of workers nationwide.

Washington University public health researcher and study lead Jenine Harris says some Missouri workers are even more at risk.

"We found that younger folks, men, people living in isolated or rural areas, lower income folks, people with less education, were all more likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke," Harris said.

According to a U.S. Surgeon General's report, non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke face many of the same health risks as smokers. Those risks include respiratory problems, heart disease, and lung cancer.

Twenty-three states have enacted comprehensive laws banning smoking in the workplace. Missouri has not.

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