Published: 26/03/2014 09:27 - Updated: 26/03/2014 09:36

New campaign to protect children from second hand smoke

A NEW campaign has been launched to protect children from second hand smoke.cigarettes

New research has shown that harmful chemicals in second-hand smoke linger and travel for up to five hours after the visible smoke has disappeared.

The campaign by the Scottish Government is urging people to take smoking right outside of the home or car for the sake of their children.

Public Health Minister Michael Matheson wants to cut the number of children exposed to second hand by 6%, which represents 50,000 children, by 2020.

The target is part of the Government’s comprehensive Tobacco Control Strategy for Scotland which sets out a five-year plan to put Scotland on the path to becoming a tobacco-free generation.

Effects of second-hand smoke can have serious consequences for a child’s health and it is estimated that second-hand smoke exposure in UK children each year causes over 20,000 cases of lower respiratory tract infection, 120,000 cases of middle ear disease, at least 22,000 new cases of wheeze and asthma, 200 cases of bacterial meningitis, and 40 sudden infant deaths - one in five of all cot deaths.

Mr Matheson said: "This campaign isn’t about a person’s choice to smoke, it’s about people who smoke having the facts so they can smoke in a way that doesn’t harm their children.

"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."

Dr Sean Semple, University of Aberdeen, the leading academic on second-hand smoke whose research has informed the campaign said: "Eight years ago, Scotland led the way on measures to protect people from second-hand smoke with legislation banning smoking in many public spaces. The benefits of this to health have been substantial and sustained, but we know that second-hand smoke still causes considerable ill-health and that this is mainly from smoking within the home.

"In the past five years our research group has measured pollution levels in over 100 homes across Scotland. Smoking homes have very high concentrations of fine particles that tend to be much higher than the worst pollution on even the busiest roads in Scotland.

"Despite the high second-hand smoke levels measured the outlook is good; many of the smokers we worked with were already starting to make their home smoke-free. By taking their smoking right outside people can improve the air quality in their home and protect the health of their families."

James Cant, Head of British Lung Foundation Scotland, said: "Everyone knows that cigarette smoke is harmful. What we don’t all know is that more than 85 per cent of smoke is invisible and has no smell. That hidden danger can linger and kids who are exposed are at greater risk of diseases from glue ear to asthma, meningitis and cot death.

"We have to get second-hand smoke right out of our homes and away from children. Every parent wants to do the right thing to protect their kids. This campaign will give them the tools and information to do just that."

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