BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Children’s of Alabama and UAB Pediatrics received a $80,000 grant from the Alabama Department of Public Health to protect children from the effects of secondhand smoke and vaping as well as tobacco use and initiation.
A report was issued Tuesday stating that the hospital systems received the grant in order to work towards preventing effects on the youth of these materials. The two organizations will be responsible for providing education to middle and high school students in Birmingham City Schools and other surrounding areas on health risks of both smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.
Tobacco use is prevalent in Alabama with one in four high school students using substances derived from the plant, according to the CDC. Health conditions like Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, bronchiolitis and asthma can be caused or worsened by secondhand smoke, according to the release. Tobacco use during pregnancy can also have effects on the infant’s birthweight and lung health after the birth.
The education from the grant will also tackle electronic cigarettes, which are the most widely used nicotine-delivery system by teenagers in high school today, according to the release.
“As a pediatrician, I am very concerned about the potential for electronic cigarettes to addict a whole generation of youth to nicotine and tobacco,” Susan Walley, M.D., an associate professor at UAB and doctor at Children’s of Alabama stated. “Studies have shown that youth who use electronic cigarettes are more likely to go on to smoke conventional cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes also pose health risks to children from the secondhand aerosol, which is not merely ’harmless water vapor,’ and is a poisoning risk from the concentrated electronic cigarette nicotine solution.”
Children’s of Alabama’s calls on toxic exposure to electronic cigarette vapor rose from just two calls in 2012 to 95 in 2015, according to the release. The Center has received 22 calls so far in 2016.