2012 Volume 39 Issue 4 Pages 540-544
Background Smoking is known to be a serious risk factor for COPD, lung cancer and other chronic pulmonary diseases. The traditional custom in Erimo, Hokkaido is for the children to light a cigarette and hand it over to their parents whose hands were wet from fishing in 1940's. This study examined the influence of childhood passive smoke exposure with respiratory diseases.
Aim We attempted to find the cause for severe COPD and other pulmonary diseases with early exposure to cigarette smoke. The prevalence of these diseases was analyzed in comparison with other areas in Japan.
Methods We used results from routine medical checkup by Erimo city health division in which about 6000 residents' epidemiologic survey was performed. The statistical materials released from the Japanese government were used for comparison of each disease and mortality rate.
Results Majority of smokers were found to be active or had passive exposure to tobacco smoke from a young age in Erimo. The housemate smoking rate was 81.0%. The mortality of chronic respiratory disease was 71.4 per 100,000 person- years, which was much higher than the national average (11.4 per 100,000 person-years). Prevalence of COPD (465.5 per 100,000 person-years) was higher than the national average (136.2 per 100,000 person-years). That of lung cancer was also very high (83.3 per 100,000 person-years).
Conclusion The results of the present study suggest that early exposure to tobacco smoke produces chronic pulmonary diseases and lung cancer. In Japan, men's smoking rate had decreased, but the rate in women (9.1%) had steadily increased from 1989. Specifically the smoking rate in younger generation remains still high (14.3% aged 20's, 18.0% aged 30's). Further analysis of cohorts from Erimo would be a valuable indicator on the impact of smoking activities on lung health and disease.