Around 95% of children from 12 primary schools in Dhaka tested positive to recent second-hand smoke (SHS) exposure, according to a study.
The research project, conducted by University of York in collaboration with University of Dhaka, is the first to report on biochemically validated second-hand smoke exposure among children in a low and middle-income country
The survey included testing saliva samples from nearly 500 children, between the age of 9 and 12. The test results revealed that 95% of the children were found to have been recently exposed to SHS. Among the participants, 43% of the children were reported to have been living with an active smoker.
Sarwat Shah, lead author of the study and a research fellow at the Department of Health Sciences of York, said the results have revealed that Dhaka has more than double the expected SHS exposure rate, which is 40%.
The difference is severe in comparison to the UK, with 31%, and in Canada with 9.2%. All the countries have comprehensive smoke-free legislation.
She said: "Despite having a ban on smoking in public places, the results of the study reveal recent second-hand smoke exposure among children in Bangladesh remains very high. Children bear the biggest burden of disease due to second-hand smoke and face increased risks of respiratory tract infections, allergies and asthma.
"Children have little control over their environment; they are dependent on others to introduce measures to protect them from SHS exposure."
According to the research team, in order to take preventive measures against any further damage, policy makers must devise a framework to enforce smoke-free laws. The framework should also include interventions to reduce children being exposed to second-hand smoke at their homes.
The comprehensive results were published in the journal of Nicotine and Tobacco Research, funded by the Medical Research Council.