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More children exposed to secondhand smoke during lockdown

Lockdown has left more children exposed to secondhand smoke, health campaigners have warned following the publication of YouGov smoking data today.

The YouGov Covid tracker surveyed 4,007 people across the UK, revealing non-smokers who live with children are more likely to report being exposed to secondhand smoke since lockdown compared to those without children (10% compared with 6%).

The data also revealed that one in ten (12%) smokers who live with children report they are smoking indoors more than they did before coronavirus.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has warned that the data shows smokers ‘are not getting the right support to quit and the protect those around them from tobacco smoke’ during the outbreak.

Secondhand smoke causes numerous health problems in children, raising the risks of more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections, ear infections, and even meningitis and sudden infant death, it added.

Among adults, exposure significantly increases the risk of stroke, coronary heart disease and lung cancer.

ASH cautioned that steps such as opening a window, smoking by the back door or smoking in another room do little to protect children and other non-smoking adults.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH, which is leading a campaign to encourage smokers to QuitForCovid, said that parents must have the support they need to quit.

She continued: ‘This is an issue of equity. If you live in a high-rise block, taking your smoke outside is much harder than in a semi-detached with a garden.’

Respiratory consultant Dr Nick Hopkinson, medical director at British Lung Foundation and chair of ASH said: ‘Exposure to secondhand smoke is one of the leading causes of poor respiratory health in children.

‘Smokers need to take their smoke outside but should try to quit if they can. Using alternative sources of nicotine like patches, gum or e-cigarettes can help reduce craving and protect them and their loved ones, especially children, from harm.’

Smokers looking to quite can get in touch with local services and use other sources of nicotine as an alternative to smoking indoors if they need help handling cravings. Find out more at the Today is the Day website or ask experts questions by tweeting @QuitforCovid.

Last month, nursing groups revealed fears to Nursing in Practice that domestic violence would rise in lockdown and with health visitor and school nurse redeployment

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