April 11, 2015

WHEN SOUND BITES BACKFIRE: Global warming didn’t give Malia asthma: President’s smoking more likely to cause daughter’s health problem than climate change.

President Obama blames global warming for his daughter’s asthma. Today that’s politically useful spin, but the science says something different. If you’re looking for a culprit, it just might be Malia’s dad. . . .

Whether there is a link between asthma and global warming, Malia herself hasn’t really experienced much. The high school junior was born in 1998, when temperatures spiked. By some measurements, the world hasn’t warmed significantly since then.

Which brings us back to her father and his Marlboros. The president, who quit smoking years ago, has long kept his tobacco use out of doors. That’s a common-sense tactic for folks who have trouble quitting. But sometimes, science can show that common sense has less sense than you think.

Research funded by the National Institutes of Health has shown that smoking outside doesn’t totally protect children from secondhand smoke. Even when smoking is done outside, nicotine in infants’ hair is five times higher for babies with outside smoking parents than non-smoking parents. Smoking-related chemicals in infants’ urine is seven times higher. Other studies have found similar results.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “tobacco smoke is one of the most common asthma triggers,” and “if you have asthma, it’s important that you avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.”

No father wants to feel that his habits might hurt his children. But sometimes you have to look in the mirror to find the guilty party, not search the stratosphere for a hidden culprit.

Ouch.

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