Parents Smoke Near Baby: Would You Say Something?

By ABC News

Feb 23, 2012 9:05am

ABC News’ Tara Evans reports:

We all know smoking isn’t healthy, but we tend to think in terms of smokers themselves. Sure, we’re all familiar with the phrase secondhand smoke, but how do we really feel about how it affects us and those around us?

“What Would You Do?” decided to find out. We hired actors to play parents with a newborn in one hand and a cigarette in the other. We were curious to see what beachgoers on the boardwalk in Long Branch, N.J., would do when they saw parents smoking just above their “baby” — played by a doll. While one man was concerned enough to offer a healthy suggestion — see preview below — others couldn’t see through the smoke.

According to the Surgeon General, concentrations of many known carcinogenic and toxic chemicals are higher in secondhand smoke than in the smoke inhaled by smokers, and breathing secondhand smoke for even a short time can immediately cause adverse effects on the cardiovascular system. Babies and young children are especially at risk, because their bodies and lungs are still developing, making them more susceptible to toxins.

Every year, about 150,000 infants are exposed to secondhand smoke with some potentially harmful effects. Babies, whose mothers smoke while pregnant and babies exposed to secondhand smoke after birth are more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. They may also experience increased risk of  bronchitis, pneumonia and ear infections. Exposure to secondhand smoke can also cause already asthmatic children to suffer more-frequent and severe attacks.

So would you step in if you saw parents smoking right next to their baby? Let us know by voting below. And watch the whole scenario play out on “What Would You Do?” Friday at 10 p.m. ET.

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