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 484.

    If a child dies of meningitis as a result of breathing in second-hand smoke in the home or car. Does the parent get charged with man slaughter. Surely having caused the death of a fellow human being deserves a blanket charge.

    Health officials want you to realise when you smoke everyone else around you is being forced to smoke as well. That smoke kills, your killing yourself and your family.

  • rate this

    Comment number 483.

    Warsi crowing over Labour by-election loss. Maude promoting jerry cans. Miliband sneering re fuel crisis handling. Govts of all flavours telling us how much to drink, when to smoke, how much exercise to do, what to eat.

    How I wish we had Germany's politicians. Despite the costs of WWII reconstruction, reunification & € troubles, Gemany STILL powers ahead. Explanation? UK has AWFUL politicians.

  • rate this

    Comment number 482.

    Verity 464: What has that do do with anything? I enjoy a social drink once a week but I do not spit it in people's faces or drive my kids to school drunk nor am I so addicted that I need to take several daily breaks at work for a drink. The two issues are important but you are blurring the distinctions. One issue at a time.
    If you could stick to the issue which is smoking that would be great.

  • rate this

    Comment number 481.

    If tobacco products are lethal to humans, and there is empirical evidence to support this, why hasn't tobacco been banned completely? Why not legislate it out of existence? So Mr Govt Minister- either grow a pair and reclassify it as a Class A Illegal substance, or leave us all alone to die in peace.
    Oh, and If everyone gave up and lived longer, pensions would cease to exist due to extra costs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 480.

    As a non smoker, I think that smoking in a car with a child is inexcusable - but I believe that we need some perspective. Here it is unlawful to drink outdoors and to smoke indoors (in public places, places of work and most rented housing). This is over-intrusive legislation. People at shisha cafes, smoking rooms or well ventilated parts of their home harm no-one but themselves. Bad laws harm all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 479.

    I find this sort of thing absurd, not because it's bad advice (passive smoking is deeply unfair on others), but because we seem to have to rely on doing everything else *except* banning smoking or tobacco sales.

    We know the dangers by now - either people have listened or are too stuck in their ways to change.

    Really we need to start ridding society of tobacco altogether.

  • rate this

    Comment number 478.

    The two are vastly different, One cigarette may addict you - it's that addictive. One small glass of wine will not. One cigarette a week may kill you, one glass of wine will not.

    Problems with alcohol lie mainly in its abuse not in its use. Thats not the case with tobacco.

    Much alcohol related bad behaviour is not actually related to the effects of the drug itself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 477.

    @465 - look up 'latency period', and consider that it is quite possible to have increasing rates of illness against decreasing current usage. Smoking related illnesses can have latency periods of several years.

    Then check available data on industrial emissions and general air quality. You'll see a marked improvement over the last few decades. Stop blaming everyone else. Smoking is bad for you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 476.

    What I can not understand is why young adult's begin to smoke in the first place? I currently work in a Tesco Express store in a busy city centre and I am constantly selling Tobacco product's to people born in the 90's (1994 now), Most generally are female in all.

    I can't understand why this is so, as I am not much older (26) and I have been aware of the health issues since I was quite young

  • rate this

    Comment number 475.

    Here we go again,yet more meddling from this bloody government that promised to stop all this kind of rubbish,

  • rate this

    Comment number 474.

    Instead of going on about how much smoking costs the NHS think of how much is saved in unpaid pensions for those smokers who have killed themselves before they retire

  • rate this

    Comment number 473.

    Having read his disingenuous quote, Simon Clark from Forest has sold his soul to the cigarette manufacturers and or the devil. Smoking has no upside and is disgusting; parents who force it down their children's throats should have them taken into care. Same with obese children. Physical abuse does not always come in the form of a fist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 472.

    I no longer smoke but when I did I remember just how annoying all the anti smoking publicity was. The country has become such a nanny state now that it is really beginning to affect quality of life. Personally I do not think people should smoke in front of children, but they must be free to make their own choices. It is not the place of government to micro manage peoples lives they way they do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 471.

    431 Bit off topic but a poorly informed statement Verity. There is no "tax on pasties", this is a gross simplification perpetuated by tabloids. The budgetary change levies VAT hot food to stop certain retailers, mainly multiples, from avoiding tax on, for example, hot rotisserie chickens, when a takeaway store would pay VAT. A pedantic change, no doubt, but the resulting furor is very childish.

  • rate this

    Comment number 470.

    Just ban smoking completely !
    The people who will thank you the most are the smokers (like myself).... if we live long enough to see it happen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 469.

    I just so happens,that I LIKE both drinking and smoking,even @ the same time,even in my own house,even pay TAX to do it.Oop's,forgot that's,"Thought Crime".They are kicking in my door as i type!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 468.

    Whilst we're at it, all-encompassing State Nanny, how about banning the term *Non-PC* - or, as we used to call it, *totally lacking in manners*

  • rate this

    Comment number 467.

    447.Sue Doughcoup
    Smokers say that the tax they pay covers them for NHS treatment of their smoking related illnesses

    ==> True and they pay many times over, far more than drinkers pay for their illnesses and inconvenience. Smokers also have shorter lifespans thus less costly on pensions.

  • Comment number 466.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 465.

    Another dig at smokers... Interesting how the numbers of smokers has dropped massively in the last few years yet the number of 'smoking' related illnesses is still rising. How long before the gov and scientists stop using smoking as a the cause for respiratory illness, cancer and so many others things, they need to face up to the fact that cars, industry and general pollution are really to blame.


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