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Childhood exposure to secondhand smoke is linked to lung disease decades later, according to a study published Thursday by the American Cancer Society.

For 22 years, researchers have been following more than 70,000 adults who have never smoked. At the beginning of the study, they were asked whether they lived in a household with a smoker while they were children. Those who did were 31 percent more likely to die of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This is the first study to find a correlation between the two.

“We know that children exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to have lung problems, asthma,” said Ryan Diver, the director of data analysis at the American Cancer Society and lead author of the study.

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