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More Parents Use Marijuana, Expose Children To Secondhand Smoke: Study

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As more states lobby for the legalization of recreational marijuana, health experts point out increasing cases of babies exposed to secondhand smoke from their parents.

Cigarettes And Cannabis

Surveys confirm that tobacco use among adults has seen a steady drop as more mothers and fathers switched to pot. A team of researchers from Columbia University collected data that shows a significant rise of cannabis use instead. The numbers show a jump from 11 percent in 2002 to 17 percent in 2015.

Among the users, parents who smoke cannabis at home rose from 5 percent to 7 percent in those years, respectively. The data was reportedly taken from the National Survey as well as Drug Use and Health.

Continued Studies Regarding Its Effects

Although it is not yet proven, healthcare specialists are worried that the secondhand smoke from parents using cannabis might have the same effect as conventional cigarettes do. A study conducted by the American Heart Association in 2016 shows that exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke for a minute impaired vascular functions for up to 90 minutes in laboratory rats.

"The increase in cannabis use may be compromising progress in curbing exposure to secondhand smoke," wrote Renee Goodwin, a psychiatric epidemiologist at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.

"There is counseling and advice for folks on having their children avoid cigarette smoke, but no one is being advised on what to do about marijuana smoke," she added.

Legalization Might Help Reduce Exposure

Data collected from the research still lacks more detail as to how close the parents are when they smoke marijuana, yet due to the recreational use of cannabis being illegal in most states, people often avoid public places and choose to do so at home. Given the scenario, it is likely that users have no choice but to expose their children to secondhand smoke.

Studies have yet to show that exposure in states wherein cannabis is legal is lower than those that consider it illegal.

Established Results From Studies

While experts and researchers continue their study into the risks involved with secondhand smoke from cannabis, published studies can only confirm its effects on teenagers who use the drug. The government classifies marijuana as a schedule I drug and is closely regulated by authorities. Currently, only nine states allow its recreational use.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declare on its website that long-term changes to memory, learning capabilities, and attention are just some of its recorded effects. Health officials advise parents to avoid smoking cannabis in the presence of children as much as possible.

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