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.