People in the Western Isles who think they are doing enough to protect their children from their second-hand smoke are being targeted as part of a new campaign.
With new research showing the harmful chemicals in second-hand smoke linger and travel for up to five hours after the visible smoke has disappeared, the campaign is urging people to take smoking right outside of the home or car for the sake of their children.
NHS Western Isles Smoking Cessation Co-ordinator, Joanne O’Donnell, said: “NHS Western Isles strongly supports this campaign, welcoming every intervention that encourages our communities to protect our children from the damaging effects of second hand smoke by ensuring that our children have the chance to grow up in a smoke-free environment.”
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 harmful chemicals linger and easily drift around the home.
The campaign gives people who smoke the facts, helping them understand how smoking indoors pollutes the air their family breathes and how they can take simple steps to make their home and car smoke-free.
Joanne O’Donnell continued: “In the Western Isles we will be delivering a range of events and roadshows across the Western Isles, and we will be producing and circulating a leaflet and range of posters that will support our local commitment to raising awareness of the effects of second hand smoke on our children.
“We will also be offering training to health professionals and community groups, who have an input to children under five and their parents and carers, to raise awareness of the dangers of second smoke and how we can all help to protect children from its damaging effects.”
She added: “The Western Isles roadshows will coincide with the highly popular Hebridean Celtic Festival in July 2014, which attracts families home to the Islands. This will offer an excellent platform to raise awareness of the dangers of second hand smoke to our children.”
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.
The campaign launched as the Scottish Government announced a new target 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.
ASH Scotland has said that this is the first target of its kind anywhere in the world.
Minister for Public Health Michael Matheson said: “As we move towards creating a tobacco-free generation, we want to give every child in Scotland the chance to grow-up in a smoke-free environment.
“This campaign isn’t about a person’s choice to smoke, it’s about people who smoke having the facts so they can smoke in a way that doesn’t harm their children.
“The reality is that many think they’re already doing enough, without realising that the harmful chemicals from second-hand smoke linger, even when there is no smell and it can’t be seen.
“Because children’s immune systems aren’t fully developed and they breathe quicker than adults, the simple fact is that smoking in the home or car puts children of all ages at risk.”
For help and advice on how to take smoking right outside, visit www.rightoutside.org