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Protect your children from passive smoking


April 21, 2007: Much has been written and discussed on the hazards of passive smoking, or second-hand smoke. Whenever one smokes, all the others around him or her are smoking too because they breathe in the same harmful substances as the person who is smoking.

Sheer common sense and scientific research will tell you that children are more adversely affected by passive smoking than adults.

When a person smokes, tiny, invisible particles mix with the surrounding air. These particles, which are breathed in by anyone near the smoker, get into their lungs.

Since passive smoking is especially harmful to children, good care has to be taken to
protect your children from passive smoking by making your home and car smoke-free.

Scientific studies have shown that passive smoke contains numerous chemicals that are poisonous. There are around 4,000 different chemicals in tobacco smoke that may be breathed in by someone who happens to be near a smoker. These toxic chemicals also stick to clothes, furniture, walls and inside your car.

Some of these chemicals are:

  • Tar, made up of many chemicals, including cancer-causing substances.
  • Carbon monoxide, that lowers the amount of oxygen your blood can carry.
  • Poisons, including arsenic, ammonia and hydrogen cyanide.

Unless smokers are very careful about where they smoke, children near them may breathe in these chemicals too, increasing their risk of illness.

What passive smoking does, especially to children?

Passive smoking, besides irritating the eyes and airways, increases the risk of illnesses in children such as pneumonia, bronchitis, coughing and wheezing, middle-ear infections and serious asthma attacks.

According to World Health Organisation, passive smoking increases a child’s risk of developing heart disease and cancer as an adult. In some children, it may also be a contributing factor in learning and language difficulties as well as behavioural problems.

It has been found that young children exposed to passive smoking have more dental decay than other children. Recent research has also revealed that passive smokers are more likely to develop diabetes than people who are not exposed to smoking.

Childhood illnesses, apart from being distressing for the child, are worrying and expensive for parents. Hence the need to protect children from passive smoking.

Smoking in pregnancy

The hazards of smoking during pregnancy are many:

The baby is likely to be smaller at birth.
The mother is more likely to have a miscarriage.
There may be more chance of the baby being stillborn.
Women whose partners smoke have a higher risk of the baby not growing well in the womb.
Smoking during pregnancy and after the birth of a baby are linked to the sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Injuries caused by smoking

Children who are around people who smoke face many more risks. They are:

  • Poisoning: Cigarettes and cigarette ash are poisonous and eating even one butt can make a young child sick. Keep cigarettes and ashtrays away from children.
  • Burns: Cigarettes can seriously burn children.
  • Matches and lighters: These can cause burns and also start house fires and other fires. Keep matches and lighters away from children.
  • Motor vehicle accidents: Smoking while driving increases the likelihood of having an accident.

How to protect your children from passive smoking

In recent years, the dangers of passive smoking have become more widely known and so many people, workplaces and public places have gone smoke-free. Studies show that more and more people are protecting their children from passive smoking by having smoke-free homes and cars.

What you can do to protect your children

  • Make your home and car smoke-free.
  • If you are a smoker, you can decide to smoke only outside and never smoke near children.
  • Never smoke in the car when children are with you.
  • If you must smoke, limit your smoking at home to one room, where your children do not enter.
  • If you smoke outside when they are around, avoid the smoke drifting in their direction.
  • When you have visitors, you should politely let them know that your home is smoke-free. You and your visitors must know that even one cigarette can cause damage.
  • Remember this: If you smoke around your kids, they are likely to smoke, too.





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