A lot of recent media exposure has been given to the damaging effects of cigarette smoke on children – and a new Scottish campaign aims to minimise the risk of their exposure to second-hand smoke.
The initiative – helped by research from the University of Aberdeen – has urged parents to stop smoking outside homes and cars with the aim of reducing children’s exposure to second-hand smoke from 12% to 6% by 2020, equating to 50,000 children.
The Scottish government has blasted current measures, which they say aren’t sufficient to protect children from harmful chemicals. The new campaign will help people understand how cigarette smoke pollutes the air as well as offering advice on how parents can make their cars and homes free of smoke.
All children should be able to grow up in a smoke-free environment, according to Scotland’s Public Health Minister, Michael Matheson. He also stressed that the campaign is intended to educate parents rather than impose restrictions on their decision to smoke.
We want to give every child in Scotland the chance to grow-up in a smoke-free environment. The reality is that many think they’re already doing enough, without realising that the harmful chemicals from second-hand smoke linger, even when there is no smell and it can’t be seen.
Because children’s immune systems aren’t fully developed and they breathe quicker than adults, the simple fact is that smoking in the home or car puts children of all ages at risk.
He says smoking outside of the car or by an open window is not enough, particularly in light of recent research showing that 85% of second-hand smoke is odourless and invisible and harmful chemicals can linger for a long time.
Second-hand smoke causes an estimated 20,000 cases of lower respiratory infection in children every year in the UK, with just as many new cases of asthma and wheezing. It is also believed to be responsible for one in five cot deaths.
A Labour plan to ban smoking in cars with children has already been backed in England by the House of Lords.