New Campaign to Protect Children from Smoke

A major survey is being carried out across Forth Valley to make sure that children have the best start in life, free from the effects of second hand cigarette smoke.

More than six thousand leaflets are being distributed to GP practices, community pharmacies, community centres and libraries, asking a series of questions about smoking habits in the home and in the car. People who complete the survey, which comes with a Freepost return, will then receive a reward of a free goodie bag. This will contain pens and pencils, colouring books, car stickers and fridge magnets.

Supporting the campaign is big bear Little Paw, who is pictured with Forth Valley children.

NHS Forth Valley Public Health Practitioner David Cairns said: “We all want the best for our children so we need to protect them from the effects of second hand smoke. Children and babies who live in homes or travel in cars where people smoke have a greater chance of becoming ill with coughs and ear infections, suffering ongoing chest problems such as wheezing, asthma and bronchitis and dying from cot death.”

The leaflet also contains a tick box for smokers who pledge to try to make their home and car smoke free at all times. This allows health promotion staff to phone three months later to find out how they are coping, and if necessary, offer extra free treatment and support.

The survey is part of a campaign by the Scottish Government to reduce the proportion of children in Scotland exposed to second-hand smoke in the home from 12 per cent to six per cent by 2020, equivalent to approximately 50,000 children being protected.

New research has shown that the harmful chemicals in second-hand smoke linger and travel for up to five hours after the visible smoke has disappeared. Because 85 per cent of second-hand smoke is invisible and odourless, many are unaware that smoking indoors, even at an open window or standing at the back door, isn’t enough to protect children, as the chemicals linger and easily drift around the home.

It is estimated that second-hand smoke exposure in UK children each year causes over 20,000 cases of lower respiratory tract infection, 120,000 cases of middle ear disease, at least 22,000 new cases of wheeze and asthma, 200 cases of bacterial meningitis, and 40 sudden infant deaths – one in five of all cot deaths.