Stop smoking around kids

15 June 2014

We’ve all heard about the dangers of secondary smoke: it increases your risk of developing lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. And these risks are even greater in children. This is why it’s vital to think twice before you light up around your children.

We’ve all heard about the dangers of secondary smoke: it increases your risk of developing lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. And these risks are even greater in children. This is why it’s vital to think twice before you light up around your children.

How bad is it really?

Secondary smoke can increase children’s risk of becoming asthmatic and of contracting lung diseases, meningitis, colds and middle ear infection.

A recent study publish in the European Heart Journal found children exposed to secondary smoke can sustain irreparable damage to their blood vessels. This increases their risk of heart attacks or stroke when they’re adults.

According to a study of the Nicotine and Tobacco Research Journal children are more susceptible secondary smoke because they breathe faster and absorb more toxins because of their smaller bodies. What’s more, children whose parents smoke are more likely to take up smoking  than those whose parents don’t smoke.

The study also found that smoke particles are 11 times more concentrated in a vehicle with closed windows than in a pub where smoking is allowed. And opening the windows doesn’t help much either: the smoke blows back into the car and stays there for hours, even if invisible.

What the law says

It’s precisely because of these type of research findings that legislation was recently introduced in parliament in Britain to outlaw people smoking in their cars with children present.

Similar legislation already applies in the USA, Canada and Australia. In South Africa it’s been illegal since 2008 to smoke in a car with children under the age of 12 present.

What do SA parents thinks?

We asked parents on our Facebook community SuperMom if they think it’s problematic for parents to smoke in vehicles when children are present and they were unanimous: Definitely!

But don’t be despondent, you might still get on top of your smoking habit and boost your child’s health in the process.

Here are a few tips:

  • Lock your cigarettes in the car’s boot
  • Get someone to keep you accountable – you could even ask your kids
  • Never smoke in a room when your children are with you or in a room where they often play

Amanda Saayman suggests you make a game of it: “You can tell your kids, ‘I won’t smoke if you’re in the vicinity, like in the car or inside the house, but if you catch me I owe you’re a milkshake’.”

Here’s help

- Shané Barnard

Extra sources: Medical News Today, Health24, Reuters, News24

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