Parents can play a crucial role in protecting their children's health, simply by not smoking in their presence, Faculty of Public Health (FPH) and Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) said today.
Parents, carers and other family members are urged to ensure their homes are smoke-free and to not smoke in the car or any other enclosed space when children are present. By doing this, parents are not only protecting their children's health but acting as positive role models, as children whose parents smoke are around three times more likely to take up smoking themselves.
Most parents are not aware of the serious effects they could be having on their children's health. A national survey revealed that even when prompted only around half of adults (57%) knew that exposure to tobacco smoke increased the risk of sudden infant death syndrome while just over a third (36%) realised it increased the risk of ear infections, both of which have been shown to have clear links to secondhand smoke.
There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, yet it is estimated that about four in every 10 children in UK households are exposed to secondhand smoke in their home – around five million children.
FPH and ASH are also calling on the government to educate the public and health professionals on the health risks to children posed by secondhand smoke, and to make sure that stop smoking services are adequately funded and targeted towards disadvantaged smokers.
"Smoking is both deadly and addictive and it is essential that we do all we can to both protect children from the effects of other people's smoke and prevent them from taking up the habit themselves," said FPH President Alan Maryon Davis.
Are you encouraging your patients to give up smoking and act as good role models to their children? Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)
"This is a very important area that does not get enough attention. For example, why do asthma review templates not include a question about a child's exposure to secondhand smoke? This is an ideal opportunity to discuss smokoing with parents and offer smoking cessation support." - Viv Marsh, Dudley PCT
"Yes, it is very essential for patients not to smoke. The risks that nonsmokers are exposed to are too much, staying at the bus stops waiting for bus hardly one will not see one or two smokers and they don't always put into concideration that some people waiting at the bus stops are not smokers putting these type of commuters in inhaling passive smoke. The government should do something about this. Putting the life of nonsmokers at risk of inhaling passive smokes should be addressed." - Maryam Omitogun, Consort Road Clinic
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