Smokers are being urged to keep their children and family smokefree as a campaign launches across the north east.
As the nights start to draw in, some smokers might relax rules around smoking. But smokers are being warned of the chemicals in tobacco smoke, which can harm their family’s health, raise the risks of serious illness such as asthma and heart disease.
The ‘Secondhand Smoke is Poison’ campaign is being launched by Fresh and supported by the British Lung Foundation. It encourages smokers to visit the www.smokefreefamilies.co.uk website for tips and support to stop smoking.
Secondhand smoke contains poisons like carbon monoxide, lead, arsenic and benzene and lingers throughout the house long after you can smell it.
Children who live in a household with a smoker are more likely to develop asthma, chest infections like pneumonia and bronchitis, meningitis, ear infections, coughs and cold. Among adults, second-hand smoke can worsen asthma, cause lung cancer and increases the risk of heart disease, stroke or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
Worryingly, research suggests more children may have been exposed to smoke during the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown.
Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, said: “No-one wants to put their family at risk but, it is clear that coronavirus has created its own pressures. The best thing anyone can do right now for their health and their family’s health is to stop smoking completely.
“We know the risks to children’s health – however secondhand smoke harms the health of adults too. This is a time when we all want to keep ourselves and our families fit and healthy and out of hospital, but living with tobacco smoke is a cause of heart disease, cancer, stroke and asthma.
“Smoking with the back door or window open does little to protect the family – quitting or taking it completely outside is the only way.”
Dr Malcolm Brodlie, consultant in paediatric respiratory medicine at the Great North Children’s Hospital and MRC clinician scientist and clinical senior lecturer at the Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University, said: “Breathing in secondhand smoke is harmful to people from all age groups, but children are especially vulnerable as their lungs are still developing and they breathe faster than adults, so inhale more of the harmful poisons. There is no safe level of exposure.
“We see the effects of this on hospital wards too often. Children and babies who are exposed to second-hand smoke are more likely to develop coughs, wheeze, asthma and infections like pneumonia and bronchiolitis. Children exposed to smoke are also more likely to develop middle ear infections which can be painful and require medical attention. But adults are at risk too.”
Figures from the British Thoracic Society in 2016 suggest that one in three children who ends up in hospital with an asthma attack has been exposed to cigarette smoke.
In contrast to the known harm from secondhand smoke, there is no evidence of harm to bystanders from exposure to e-cigarette vapour. The many harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke are either not contained in e-cigarette vapour at all or are usually found at much lower levels. The risks to bystanders from exposure to e-cigarette vapour are likely to be extremely low.
For tips on going smokefree, visit smokefreefamilies.co.uk #smokefreefamilies