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 464.

    Just now
    Do you drink? Can you put your hand on your heart and say that you will never touch a drop again - (that's if you do drink)?
    Because 'car is king'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 463.

    Smoking is bad for you, no one can argue that. But if it is going to be legal then it is really no business of the government if a person smokes inside their own property, regardless of who is with them. If they really want to protect children get rid altogether, otherwise allow people to exercise their own freedoms under the law.

  • rate this

    Comment number 462.

    Sitting in a motorway service car park recently, an old banger with 2 teenage girls roared up, parked up alongside me and immediately lit up fags with a toddler in the car seat in the back. I often defend smokers – I smoked for many years and I opposed the ban, but my overwhelming instinct was to get the poor child out of the car. Laws like this are needed to protect the silent from the stupid.

  • rate this

    Comment number 461.

    "Nanny state"!!! Not the Tories, shurely? If you are doing something that infringes someone elses life such as smoking then the governments job is to make sure that you don't do it. In the past we were kept ignorant of the effects of smoking, asbestos, lead in petrol (terrible) etc. Now those in charge are doing something about it. If you can't consider other people then discuss and legislate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 460.

    Smokers stink, the trouble is they don’t realise it until they quit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 459.

    Doctors seem to have an inordinate amount of control over what people can and can't do these days. If second hand smoke was such a massive killer everybody would know at least two or three people, personally, who had been killed by it. I would guess that like me, most people don't know a single person who's death they could put down to second hand smoke. This is social engineering at its worst.

  • rate this

    Comment number 458.

    God forbid that the UK ever has to fight a major European war again. I wonder what all the Safety and Health nuts would do then ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 457.

    433.Doctor Bob
    The research is consistent with most of the other research into passive smoking. Tobacco smoke is a very volatile and dangerous substance and, unlike many other self inflicted risks, it will affect those in the vicinity who are given no choice about whether to take that risk or not.

    Smoke out of doors if you must smoke, but why add to a Corporate's wealth when it may kill you?

  • rate this

    Comment number 456.

    Although an ex smoker, I find these constant attacks on people doing something legal offensive, what happened to the live and let live society we once had. Smokers contribute £11billion per annum into the economy via revenue, if this was lost our personal tax bill would go up by £500pa.that would really bring the wingers out in force.

  • rate this

    Comment number 455.

    As a former smoker, I understand how non smokers feel about second hand smoke. however this is not about smoking, this is about Government nannying and telling us what we can and cant do in our own home. An Englishman's home is his castle and Governments should butt (excuse the pun) out

  • rate this

    Comment number 454.

    437 NBButtermilk
    "How long before we are all sitting in front of a monitor for the daily hate ?"

    you already are. all the advertising and filth that you buy into that your way of life is acceptable and even your own conscious choice. its not. you have been hoodwinked.
    'anti-smoking fascists' my ar**. nobody is forcing you to do anything. it's your addiction that is doing that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 453.

    These are the same people who will sit for hours in traffic jams in city streets during the school run, thus exposing their children to all manner of nasty carcinogenic particulates. Are they also proposing to ban the internal combustion engine too?
    Time Nanny was consigned to the same place as Red Ed & his cronies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 452.

    413.RobPal - Enforcement; yes its easy to tell if a car has been smoked in but how do you prove who did it?
    I drive a company van, I don't smoke and I've had it from new.
    I went on holiday and when I returned it stank of smoke.
    The logbook showed who'd driven it but they all denied smoking in it, so I couldn't do anything about it.
    Enforcement is impossible unless you catch someone in the act.

  • rate this

    Comment number 451.

    If we carry on down this road we will become the most controlled society this side of North Korea.

  • rate this

    Comment number 450.

    If you want to smoke, fine. But don't force everyone else to do the same by doing it in our faces.

  • rate this

    Comment number 449.

    437. NBButtermilk
    "the Non-smoking fascists"
    Between them and the pro-smoking fascists, they are more like a necessary evil, or the lesser of two evils. Not smoking doesn't kill, smoking does.

  • rate this

    Comment number 448.

    Roger Hughes
    5 Minutes ago

    Any person who smokes in the presence of a child is patently an idiot, therefore children need protecting from them.


    I know a lot of idiots, not all are smokers trust me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 447.

    Smokers say that the tax they pay covers them for NHS treatment of their smoking related illnesses. Perhaps taxes on tobacco needs to be a lot higher to cover the treatment of their kids too. £7.20 a packet of 20. Wow! I was absolutely stunned as to how anyone can afford to smoke. Perhaps only non-smokers (and drinkers etc) should receive benefits eh?

  • rate this

    Comment number 446.

    #412..Best comment on here,the anti smoking lobby are quite happy to deflect attention from the real problem drug,which is alcohol,in fact it wouldn't surprise me to find that all this anti smoking research is conducted and funded by the drinks industry.
    The results of any research will always depend on who's doing it and where their biases lie.

  • rate this

    Comment number 445.

    I notice even the President of the RCPCH is not (yet?) calling for smoking to be forbidden in the home - only in the private car.

    That is right on the edge of what can possibly be justified in a country calling itself free. The home is different; that is private territory.


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