Call to protect more children
The call for parents to take smoking right outside has been issued, as statistics reveal that 11 per cent of children in Scotland are still being exposed to second-hand smoke within the home.
With the effects of second-hand smoke having serious consequences for a child's health, Public Health Minister Maureen Watt today highlighted that it is never safe to smoke in the home or car as the next phase of the Take it Right Outside campaign got underway.
In 2014, the Scottish Government announced a new target of reducing the proportion of children being exposed to second-hand smoke from 12 per cent to 6 per cent by 2020 – which would have the potential to protect up to 50,000 children.
The campaign is designed to help move Scotland towards achieving this target, by highlighting the facts to those who think they are doing enough to protect their children and signposting the steps they can take to make their car and home smoke-free.
Ms Watt met with children at Keppoch Nursery in Possilpark, Glasgow, where Family Wellbeing workers from the Stepping Stones for Families Family Wellbeing programme, have been working with parents to raise awareness of the dangers of second-hand smoke and the simple steps that can be taken to ensure children breathe clean air.
Following training from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde's health improvement team, the programme workers have been offering nursery parents who smoke Dylos machines to test the PM2.5 levels – harmful fine particles in the air from cigarette smoke – in their home.
The nursery was today also home to a 29-date tour which will visit communities across Scotland over the next two months, providing advice to parents on how best to protect their children from second-hand smoke.
The tour uses augmented reality technology to drive home to parents who smoke, or allow smoking in the home, that second-hand smoke is invisible and has no smell, and can linger for up to five hours.
Because 85 per cent of all second-hand smoke is invisible and odourless, many do not realise that the harmful chemicals are still waiting for children when they come in from playing or school.
Research to support the campaign highlighted that many still think smoking in one room or leaving the door or window open is enough to protect their children, unaware that the second-hand smoke lingers and can move from room to room long after people think the smoke has gone.
Public Health Minister Maureen Watt said:
"We want every child in Scotland to breathe clean air when they're in the home or the car.
"Children breathe faster than adults, and therefore breathe in more of the harmful chemicals contained in second-hand smoke. This campaign is about making sure people are aware that smoking in one room, or at an open window or back door, isn't enough to protect them due to the fact that second-hand smoke lingers for up to five hours.
"The only way to ensure that a home is smoke-free is to never smoke indoors.
"We understand that everyone's situation is different, but there are small changes parents can make to their smoking behaviour which will pay dividends in terms of protecting their children from second-hand smoke."
Lynda Bathgate, Stepping Stones for Families - Family Wellbeing Service Manager, said:
"We work in ten nurseries across Glasgow, supporting parents and providing health information on different topics, including second-hand smoke. Introducing the Dylos machines to help measure the harmful particles in the air caused by second-hand smoke has been a real eye opener for a lot of parents, and has helped open up discussions on the practical steps that can be taken to help ensure their home is smoke-free."
Irene Johnstone, Head of British Lung Foundation Scotland, said:
"Everybody 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. Parents want to do the right thing to protect their children, but not enough people know just how dangerous second-hand smoke is, or that it can hang around a room invisibly for up to five hours.
"We have to change that so we can protect the next generation from the harmful effects."
For help and advice on how to take smoking right outside, visit www.rightoutside.org
• It's 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, 600 cases of bacterial meningitis, and 40 sudden infant deaths - one in five of all cot deaths (www.rcplondon.ac.uk/sites/default/files/documents/passive-smoking-and-children.pdf)
1 The Scottish Health Survey 2014: Volume 1; September 2015.
Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive of ASH Scotland, said:
"We know that parents want to protect their children but often they aren't aware that opening a window or going to another room still leaves second-hand smoke in the house. That's why we welcome the campaign focus on informing, encouraging and supporting parents, enabling them to make their homes entirely smoke-free."
Gregor McNie, Senior Public Affairs Manager, Cancer Research UK said:
"Children are particularly susceptible to damage from the deadly chemicals in tobacco smoke as their bodies continue to grow and develop. Across the UK second-hand smoke has been linked to around 165,000 new cases of disease among children each year. This is one more good reason for parents to quit and we'd encourage those who do smoke at home to do so outside, therefore reducing these risks."
James Cant, Director at British Heart Foundation Scotland, says:
"Second-hand smoke leads to an increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and other health problems such as asthma. The effects on children are particularly harmful, putting them more at risk of respiratory infections, asthma and sudden infant death. Opening a window does not protect your kids from second-hand smoke – the harmful chemicals are so small that they're invisible and you can't smell them. The only way to keep your children safe is to take your smoking right outside."