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"

Related Stories

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?"


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 804.

    The only answer if you want any life is to emigrate and leave this batty country with all its health and safety cr*p to it. I have and I am much happier.

  • rate this

    Comment number 803.

    Tobacco should be classified along with cannabis. Addicted people must be supported and medicated with nicotine but smoking the stuff should be illegal as should bringing the stuff into the Country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 802.

    Why not ban tobacco and sell those vaping electronic devices (eCigs) - they only seem to release steam. Must be much safer than smoking and no or little second hand effects. Oh, wait a minute, they don't have lots of tax on them.

    Sorry, stupid idea, I thought for a moment that the Govt might be putting health first.

  • rate this

    Comment number 801.

    788 It seems people don't wish to believe you or don't care.As a former nurse too I know you're sadly speaking the truth.

    If you've children & smoke try to give up. If you can't at least cut down & never smoke over them particularly not in confined spaces like cars, inside your home.
    If pregnant & still smoking sorry but you're a complete numpty for wanting to inflict that on your unborn child

  • rate this

    Comment number 800.

    760. Diana_France: Yes indeed, there's plenty to be worried about, but precisely how much should we worry about each individual 'scare issue'? I really wonder about campaigns to ban such things, many of which seem driven by single issue zealots and craven media who are happy to ignore everything else. An obese, allergic child with ADHD, whose parents smoke: which is the biggest problem?

  • rate this

    Comment number 799.

    @789. firemensaction

    So by encouraging parents not to smoke in enclosed spaces around children the government are breaching the Human Rights act? So smokers can then sue the government for merely suggesting that they preserve their childs health?

    Of all the comments I've seen today thats the worst and there have been some shockers. And its got +4 - smoking must also affect brain function.

  • Comment number 798.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 797.

    I'll quit smoking around moaning non-smokers when moaning non-smokers quit poisoning the world with deadlier fumes from their cars. If they won't make an effort to stop giving someone as far away as Brazil a deadly bout of cancer, then I won't make an effort to stop giving them a deadly bout of cancer from 10 meters away.

    About time we changed the angle of debate on fumes and cancer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 796.

    I don't drive. I therefore demand that everyone else stops driving because there are risks involved with driving such as accidents and emissions.

    I am right. Because I don't drive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 795.

    there is little danger of smoking to babies and none compared with the toxic injections, aspartame laced drinks and sexual abuse done by the authorities under the cover of liberal healthcare. there is no precedance for rape within our homes for that is what this is. sick psychopaths.

  • rate this

    Comment number 794.

    6 Minutes ago
    Why on earth did this get a -ve rating?

    ... Simple, the medical info is, as clearly stated by a doctor inthis very thread, WRONG

    The main causes of those problems are modern fabrics & air conditioning.

  • rate this

    Comment number 793.

    I'm an ex-smoker (8 months ago after 20 years). Now free of the addiction, I know what a disgusting and destructive addiction it is. That said, I think any further bans are going too far - by all means have ads telling the stupid that it's bad to smoke around their children - it might sink in, but making it law is not needed. 2 types of people smoke now: teenage girls and the sadly addicted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 792.

    Thanks Nanny, I'm very grateful now you've told me what to do. Now, can you please tell me if I should light a bonfire, live in a neighbourhood where there is one, light a fire in the grate in my own living room, ask people smoking in the street next to me to stop it? I've got more questions too, because I'm too stupid to work stuff out for myself. Thank goodness Nanny was around: my saviour!

  • rate this

    Comment number 791.

    The increase in bronchial trouble is more to do with modern living than with smoking,with more and more housing having central heating,this leads to temperatures which encourage viruses to grow and spread and the increase of the dust mite which aggravate the bronchial tubes,and at a time when there are fewer smokers than ever,but then smokers get the blame for all the ills of the country dont they

  • rate this

    Comment number 790.

    Sitting in my window watching a group of 5 or 6 children, aged no more than 12yo smoking in the park on the other side of the river. Their parents might step out of the house for a cigarette - I wonder if the children do?

  • rate this

    Comment number 789.

    So the government is to spend OUR money on ads denigrating smokers are they?
    Ads on tv can cost from £3,000 to £6,000 per 3 minutes. 100 ads a day?
    You work it out.

    Have ministers or civil servants considered each citizen has a right to Life Liberty and Property? However they may disagree with her lifestyle?
    By acting as they are, government breaches HR Act!

  • rate this

    Comment number 788.

    I work as a children's nurse, and it seems that every other admission to a paediatric medical ward is a child with respiratory problems. You can often smell cigarette smoke on a baby or child, in their clothes and hair, as they struggle for breath due to asthma attacks or bronchiolitis. Smoking is a choice made by the parent, not the child; why should the child suffer the consequences?

  • rate this

    Comment number 787.

    777. Romanyuk
    "next they will make you pay for your medical care. nonsmoker"

    If this ever happens, all smokers should expect massive tax refunds for a lifetime of tax payments made in contribution to NHS services they no longer qualify for. Smokers can use these gargantuan refunds to pay for private healthcare

  • rate this

    Comment number 786.

    770 Adam, It was only 50 years ago, not 150, and yes it would be nice to go back, Life was not as cushy as it is now, but we also did not have Bigots shouting down free choice, we had just disposed of one, who also had the same mind set as many do on here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 785.

    A bit ironic that smokers demand to live their lives whilst their damaging smoke is interfering with that of others. What selfishness. They are no better than a common drug addict. Still trying to justify their habit whilst playing victim. All the others are the baddies, top of the list the bloke that discovered that smoking causes disease.


Page 31 of 71


More Health stories



Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.