TV ad shows danger of 'invisible secondhand smoke'


Chief Medical Officer Prof Dame Sally Davies: "We have a duty to make sure everyone knows the risks"

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Making houses and cars smokefree is the only way to protect children from second-hand smoke, according to a new government campaign in England.

The TV and radio adverts show how pervasive invisible second-hand smoke can be.

Breathing it in can damage lungs and cause cancers, research has shown.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health is calling for smoking in cars where children are present to be made illegal.

Second-hand smoke is the smoke breathed in from other people's cigarettes.

The new TV campaign is based on research which shows that most secondhand smoke is in the form of invisible, odourless gases.

It shows a young baby being surrounded by cigarette smoke as her mother smokes by the nearby kitchen door.

Another advert depicts children in a car breathing in second-hand smoke from their father's cigarette. He is smoking in the driver's seat with the window down.

Start Quote

Parents who smoke need to think about the effect it has on their family”

End Quote Prof Dame Sally Davies England's chief medical officer

A study from the National Research Council in 1986 found that 85% of second-hand smoke cannot be seen.

This smoke can put other people and children at increased risk of lung disease, meningitis and cot death.

'Protect others'

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said that people do not realise the serious effect of second-hand smoke.

"This campaign will raise awareness of this danger and encourage people to take action to protect others from second-hand smoke.

He also said the government had plans to do more.

"Next week we will end tobacco displays in large shops. We will also be consulting on plain packaging this spring."

Research carried out by the Royal College of Physicians found that around two million children currently live in a household where they are exposed to cigarette smoke, and many more are exposed outside the home.

The damage caused by exposure to the harmful toxins in cigarette smoke results in 9,500 hospital visits in the UK each year costing the NHS more than £23m annually, the report said.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said it wanted to see smoking in cars made illegal, when children are present.

Start Quote

I have no doubt an outright ban on smoking in cars would have the same positive results [as banning drink-driving]”

End Quote Prof Terence Stephenson Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health

Professor Terence Stephenson, President of the RCPCH, said: "The state does have a duty to protect children's health and intervene where necessary.

"Other progressive legislation such as seatbelts in cars and banning drink-driving, once met with scepticism, have proven to make a significant difference.

"I have no doubt an outright ban on smoking in cars would have the same positive results."

Doctors in Scotland have also urged the government in Edinburgh to ban smoking in cars, while the Welsh government said last year it would consider legislation if attitudes did not change.

Prof Dame Sally Davies, England's chief medical officer, said second-hand smoke could cause a range of health problems.

"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."

Support and advice is available on the NHS if people want to give up smoking, she said.

A survey of 1,000 young people in England by the Department of Health, found that children overwhelmingly want smokefree lives.

Eighty-two per cent of children wished their parents would stop smoking in front of them at home and 78% wanted their parents to stop smoking in front of them in the car.

BBQs and bonfires

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said: "There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke and children are at risk of a range of diseases such as asthma, ear infections, and potentially fatal meningitis as a result of breathing in second-hand smoke in the home or car."

But Simon Clark, director of the smokers' group Forest, said the government had gone too far.

"It's only a matter of time before loving parents who smoke in or around their homes are accused of child abuse and risk having their children taken into care.

"Tobacco is a legal product. If the government doesn't want children exposed to even a whiff of smoke they will have to amend the smoking ban to allow designated smoking rooms in pubs and clubs. That is the only sensible solution.

"Meanwhile, are they going to ban barbecues and bonfires?"


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  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    I grew up in a house in the 60s/70s where both my father and aunt smoked like chimneys. Watching TV in the confines of the living room with the fug hanging down from the ceiling - yuk. This campaign will not make me resentful of smokers, I already am. I hate my father for his totally inconsiderate attitude.

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    13 million smokers = 13 million votes. Enough to change the government.
    Time we put up our own candidates, fellow smokers!

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    If the government were really interested in stopping people smoking in their own homes, cars, etc they would raise the tax on cigarettes so high, nobody could afford them. Will they do it? No, of course not, they would loose to much in taxes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    Burning a child with a cigarette is child abuse so why doesn't the same apply to adults that make children breathe the same filth they do. It is of course very difficult to police which is where the decency of smokers becomes important. Alas, most do not give jot about other people let alone their own suffering children.

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    People who smoke outside their door or leaning out of the window - it doesn't work! Air rushes into the house taking your smoke with it.
    I have been on the receiving end of this - when I shared a flat with a puffer, his smoke could be smelled on the clothes in my wardrobe even though he always leaned out of the window and had his door closed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    I always think the act of smoking, in terms of healthiness, hygiene & the stink of it, equates to the act of urinating.

    So, if I were to come and urinate on you (or members of your family), would you think so badly of me and ban me from a 100 yds of you & your family, or would you just let me carry on urinating all over you 24/7 to my hearts content, even with a window or two open? . .

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    The problem is smokers pitiful and selfish attitude. You walk into a pub and have to walk past hordes of these horrible people, you know they don’t care about anyone around them. So there SHOULD be a total ban of public smoking because why should we care about what they want when they don’t careabout the rest of us who don’t want to even get a single whiff of their disgusting toxic mess.

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    I don't agree with smoking in enclosed spaces or forcing your smoke onto anyone, but please lets stop the scaremongering rubbish.

    Sit in a room full of cigarette smoke and you may feel a little queasy

    Sit in a room full of exhaust fumes and you will be dead very quickly.

    So which is more dangerous?

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    Loving all the sample-size-of-one 'studies' in this HYS. "I grew up in a smokers household & I'm ok therefore it doesn't cause any problems" "I know a non-smoker who had a cot death therefore smoking can't cause cot death". Smoking increases the risk of the problems listed in the article, it doesn't guarantee it will always cause them! It also doesn't guarantee avoiding them if you don't smoke!

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    Whether its bad or not, smoking is not illegal and nobody should be told not to do it in their own home.

    We know large sections of the general public are stupid (Ref. Fuel panic buying) but your own home should be just that...your own.

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    Seriously? Air fresheners?! Carpet cleaners?! These are minor concerns when compared to passive smoking. Get some perspective and take responsibility for your own actions! We've got to stop making excuses and take responsibility for stupidity because we can't blame ignorance any longer...

    I work with children and it's a sad morning when I can smell their family's cigarettes on them.

  • Comment number 153.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    I often walk my dog in an area that overlooks London.
    With the recent good weather i was hoping to see some spectacular views.
    For the last three evenings all i could see was a haze over London, which funnily enough was not apparent when looking to the surrounding countryside.

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    I live alone and I shall smoke in my own home as and when I wish to. If there is a ban in the home, how are they going to police it??? I would never smoke around young children or in public places where it is banned but when I am alone in my house or car, I refuse to be told what to do. They all smoke in the House of Lords bar don't they? I wonder what they will do about that, nothing of course.

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    To those banging on that as they were around smokers all their lives & 'it never did them any harm' so it must therefore be acceptable;

    As a student on a medical course I had to do dissection. I cut open the chest of a cadaver to see the lungs were completely black & abnormal. 'Was she a smoker?' I asked the professor. 'No, could be pollutants, most likely down to passive smoking' came the reply.

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    I'm a smoker and have 2 kids - i'm the one that chooses to smoke and i would never force my kids to breathe in thousands of chemicals from my bad habit - hence i only smoke outdoors away from them.

    My parents smoked infront of me and i had many chest infections growing up - i also believe them smoking infront of me encouraged me to smoke. I agree that smoking infront of kids should be banned.

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    My sister has never smoked,but her ex was a 20-30 a day man and she was with him for 25yrs.
    Last year she was diagnosed with COPD,and already has trouble walking a distance she used to do very easily.
    Awful stinking habit which not only kills the smoker...but has devastating affect on those who share their life!

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    I utterly detest being in the smoke trail of a smoker whilst I'm walking on a street. Idiotic smokers have absolutely no regard for their own health & well being, don't even consider others when exhaling their poisons. It's a disgusting habit/addiction that should be indulged in purposely designed rooms miles & miles from anywhere on the 29th of February but at no other time, that'll do it for me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    All we hear about is the negitive side of smoking, what about the positive side!
    I had Colitice for 2 years, this is a degrading condition and the only option left for me was to have an external bag fitted.
    Now that i smoke i do not have this condition anymore!

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    "Meanwhile, are they going to ban barbecues and bonfires?"

    Aha, another argument that demonstrates "the perfect is the enemy of the good". In other words arguing that as we cannot solve all problems we should not solve many, or even any Humankind would not have advanced if we had followed that advise.


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