If you smoke, one of the most important things you can do for your own health and the health of your children is to quit the habit.

girl smoking cigarette and little girl use inhaler
 Asthmatic children are particularly vulnerable to second-hand smoke. It may increase the frequency and severity of asthma attacks, necessitating trips to the hospital.

Today is World No-Tobacco Day – an opportunity to raise awareness of tobacco use’s harmful and deadly effects. In light of World No-Tobacco Day, we look at why smoking around children is so dangerous.

In their homes, millions of children are exposed to second-hand smoking. Because your children’s lungs are still developing, second-hand smoke can be extremely detrimental to their health.

If you smoke in the presence of your children or if they are exposed to second-hand smoke in other settings, they may be in greater danger than you think. Quitting is the most effective approach to eliminating this exposure.

What is passive smoking?

Second-hand smoke is the smoke exhaled by smokers from the burning end of cigarettes, pipes, and cigars. Approximately 4,000 compounds are present in second-hand smoke. More than 50 of these substances have been identified as carcinogens, increasing the risk of cancer. When children inhale second-hand smoke, they are exposed to these toxins.

The effects of second-hand smoke on children’s health

Exposure to second-hand smoking increases the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome in infants. Children who inhale second-hand smoke are more likely to have:

  • Otitis media
  • Colds and coughs
  • Respiratory issues, including bronchitis and pneumonia
  • Cavity decay

Children of smokers cough and wheeze more frequently and have difficulty recovering from colds. In addition, they miss many more school days. Other symptoms of second-hand smoke exposure include a stuffy nose, headache, sore throat, eye discomfort, and hoarseness.

Long-term effects of passive smoking

Children who grow up with smoking parents are more prone to smoke themselves. Children and adolescents who smoke experience the same health problems as adults. Children exposed to second-hand smoking may have long-term health issues, including:

  • A lack of lung development (meaning that their lungs never grow to their full potential)
  • Lung tumours
  • Cardiac disease
  • Optic cataracts (an eye disease)

Developing a smoke-free setting

The following tips may help protect your children from second-hand smoking exposure:

  • If you smoke, stop immediately! If your children observe you smoking, they may want to try it and may become lifelong smokers themselves. If cigarettes are present in the home, youngsters are more likely to try smoking, which is the first step toward addiction.
  • Remove your children from places that permit smoking, even if no one is smoking at the time. There are traces of smoke chemicals on surfaces in rooms days after smoking has happened.
  • Make your residence smoke-free. Until you can quit, do not smoke inside your home or anywhere near your children, including outside. Do not leave any ashtrays out. Remember that air circulates throughout a home, so smoking in even one room permits smoke to spread throughout.
  • Make sure your vehicle is smoke-free. Don’t smoke in your car until you’re able to quit. Opening windows is insufficient to clean the air and can actually blow smoke into rear-seat passengers’ faces.
  • Select a nanny who does not smoke. Even if the babysitter smokes outside, your children are still exposed to second-hand smoke. Consider changing babysitters to provide your children with a smoke-free environment.
  • Promote tobacco-free daycares and schools. Help your child’s daycare or school become tobacco-free, including outdoor spaces and teacher lounges. Engage your children in the movement to make schools tobacco-free.

A word on stopping smoking

Stopping smoking is one of the most important things smokers can do for their own health and their children’s health. Quitting is the most effective method to protect your children from second-hand smoking.

It may be challenging to quit. Consult your physician or your child’s paediatrician if you need assistance. There are over-the-counter and prescription medications that may assist you in quitting smoking.

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