A new hard-hitting campaign, highlighting the shocking truth behind secondhand smoke hit TV screens over the weekend, to highlight the fact that over 80 per cent of secondhand smoke is actually invisible, and contains harmful cancer causing toxins and poisons that are unknowingly damaging children across the country every day.
The new TV and radio adverts show that smoking by a window or the backdoor is not enough to protect children from secondhand smoke, and that it will not prevent the millions of children in the UK who are exposed to secondhand smoke each year, putting them at increased risk of lung disease, meningitis and cot death.
Secondhand smoke results in over 300,000 GP visits, 9,500 hospital visits in the UK each year, and costs the NHS more than a staggering £23.6 million every year. Secondhand smoke is the smoke breathed in from other people’s cigarettes, and although 80 per cent of it is invisible, it contains more than 4,500 chemicals, toxins, and irritants, of which over 60 are known carcinogens.
The only way to completely protect people from secondhand smoke is to make homes and cars entirely smokefree. As the campaign launches, a new survey of 1,000 young people (aged between eight – thirteen) across nine regions of England, reveals that children want smokefree lives. The survey found:
- 98 per cent of children wish their parents would stop smoking
- 82 per cent of children wish their parents wouldn’t smoke in front of them at home
- 78 per cent of the children wished their parents wouldn’t smoke in front of them in the car
- 41 per cent of children said cigarette smoke made them feel ill
- 42 per cent of children said cigarette smoke made them cough.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said of the campaign, “We all know smoking kills but not enough people realise the serious effect that secondhand smoke can have on the health of others, particularly children.
“This campaign will raise awareness of this danger and encourage people to take action to protect others from secondhand smoke.
“This is just one part of our wider strategy on tobacco. We need to do more. That is why next week we will end tobacco displays in large shops. We will also be consulting on plain packaging this spring.”
Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said, “Secondhand smoke can cause a range of serious health problems for children and adults. Smoking damages our lungs, causes cancers and is now the biggest risk for cot death. Parents who smoke need to think about the effect it has on their family.
“Giving up smoking or making sure you have a completely smokefree home and car is the only way to protect your family.
“If people do want to quit there is excellent support and advice available. Get in touch with your local stop smoking service, GP or pharmacist or visit nhs.uk/smokefree.”
Smokers can order a new NHS Smokefree Kit by texting POISONS to 63818 or by visiting nhs.uk/smokefree for facts, tips and tools to help them on the way to a smokefree future.