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 644.

    To the argument that car pollution is much worse:

    All cars are fitted with a catalytic converter which removes harmful carbon monoxide, unburned hydrocarbons and other noxious chemicals; Combined with modern high efficiency engines the exhaust is only carbon dioxide and water vapour - bad for the environment but not human health.

    There are over 19 known chemical carcinogens in cigarette smoke.

  • rate this

    Comment number 643.

    We are discussing smoking not drugs or alcohol etc!
    Smoking should never be banned in the home (bad parenting if you expose your kids to smoking) but there is evidence about smoking in cars:

  • Comment number 642.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 641.

    " a survey found that 82% of children wished their parents would stop smoking"
    Hardly surprising when they are brainwashed at school into believing that their parents are going to DIE.
    The Government should take a responsible attitude and stop frightening our children.

  • rate this

    Comment number 640.

    I saw the CVhief Medical Officer this morning on Breakfast TV, she claimed the 40 cot deaths per year where attributted to passive smoking and when challanged was not very good with the bluster. I would have fired her for that.
    All she has now done is to throw some poor mothers who have lost children to cot death into self guilt and wonder if they had killed their own child. I'm not a smoker.

  • rate this

    Comment number 639.

    "637. intbel
    smoking, sensibly and in moderation, is beneficial to human health and well-being"

    Sure and climate change is a fraud, JFK was shot by a CIA agent hidden in the grassy knoll, Elvis lives with aliens outside area 51 and Lady Di was assassinated by MI6.

  • rate this

    Comment number 638.

    I do not smoke in my house,even when the children are not present.Don't drive or own a car.I like a pint,(outside a pub nowadays,if i can find on that is still trading).Pay Excessive TAX,to smoke legally,within the requirements of the law,and am over 18.What gives people the right to tell me where to get off,regarding the choices i make for my perfectly happy and healthy children???

  • rate this

    Comment number 637.

    Honest research (as opposed to government sponsored research which produces government's predetermined results) demonstrates that smoking, sensibly and in moderation, is beneficial to human health and well-being.

    The government is corrupt - about time folks recognise this and cease voting for it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 636.

    Making houses and cars smokefree".It rubbish another desperate & inept policy by desperate government what waste of taxpayers money on this advert how are going implement this law then they're only catching a small percentage of mobile phone users in cars & what house r they going round every-ones home yeah right or use disabled plan & get neighbours,friends & families 2 tell on each other

  • rate this

    Comment number 635.

    I'm a non-smoker, but this is the nanny state taking things too far. What people do in their own homes and cars is up to them, and every smoker willingly donates valuable revenue to the government.

    It was not long ago that kids lived in enclosed rooms thick with tobacco smoke, but little or no harm came to them. 40 cigarettes per day was the norm in many offices, but I haven't suffered at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 634.

    Don't smoke in front of children, Don't drink in front of children but you give your permission for your children to eat Mcdonalds.

  • rate this

    Comment number 633.

    As I've said before, I'd very much like to quit, it's hard work at the best of times. Feeling like I'm being bullied into it 'for my own good' makes it much harder.

    The Government should know, by now, that people have to feel things are their own decisions if they are to work, and yet their first solution to every problem is to threaten to create more 'criminals'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 632.

    I'm a smoker and not proud of it, but in no way do I inflict my habbit onto anyone else. If I'm around non-smokers I do not smoke, if I'm around babies and children I do not smoke. Its called common sense.
    When will people leave us alone. Has anyone stopped and thought how much car exhaust fumes we breathe in every day. I am sure that is doing more harm!

  • rate this

    Comment number 631.

    Re 504.billy
    "Billy, I was fit and healthy up to 2006, not just when I was younger, bet you though I could have matched you, did you ever do the high jump/cross country running or play tennis and I'm just a female"
    The point I was making is that we are fitter for not smoking. I'm sure you would have trounced me at tennis/running but YOU would have been fitter if you didn't smoke

  • rate this

    Comment number 630.

    There are less toxins in the smoke through a filter than there is off the unfiltered end - so if its alright for small children to breathe that,why is there a ban on under 16s buying cigarettes?

    Just apply some logic please. Either say its fine for adults to give cigarettes to children and other peoples children to harm them with, or ban adults from forcing their smoke down childrens throats.

  • rate this

    Comment number 629.

    617. John

    "Comparing cigarette smoke, with all its harmful chemicals, to the smoke from a barbecue is the kind of bizarre inanity...".

    Cigarette smoke does quite favourably in such a comparison. He is correct and you are talking out of your hat. No doubt you have taken on board the hysteric inference that cigarette smoke is an especially noxious and toxic smoke - it isn't, it is just smoke

  • rate this

    Comment number 628.

    But its okay 4 house of Parlement to be exempt from the smoking ban! so much for the protection of other people then lol. When they completely ban the smoking revenue will be raised elsewhere! Drink, pasties, and other fat food, will be taxed as we are seeing now. Theres loads of stuff they could hit, alchol can cause so much suffering for kids too when the parents are smashed out of their head!

  • rate this

    Comment number 627.

    615.john wilson what is fowl smelling smoke? new chicken flavoured cigs. really if your arguement is about the cost of smoking then the tax alone will cover that, and the cleaning of cig stumps, some people on this site are the type that would stand next to a smoker on the street then complain. The issue that the Govt. are getting away with allkinds remains, we could blame the Unions?

  • rate this

    Comment number 626.

    I see a fair number of people here saying "what about alcohol?" as if drinkers were all a bunch of non-smoking hypocrites happy to see other people banned from smoking in front of children while they themselves indulge in inflicting alcohol-related violence on children.

    Funny how at the same time people are also posting to complain that the smoking ban has been such a disaster for pubs...

  • rate this

    Comment number 625.

    Sounds like a good idea. If it is illegal to smack kids around the head then it should be equally illegal to smoke around them. Plus now that we all have to have lots of petrel lying about in pots and pans its only common sense not to smoke.


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