Smokefree campaign

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Health chiefs at Cambridgeshire County Council are backing a national campaign designed to reduce the impact of secondhand smoke on children and young people.

The Smokefree Homes and Cars campaign launched on June 4 raising awareness of the dangers from smoking in the home and car.

Millions of children in the UK are exposed to second hand smoke that puts them at increased risk of lung disease, meningitis and cot death. Secondhand smoke contains harmful cancer causing toxins and poisons that are unknowingly damaging children across the country every day.

Over 80% of secondhand smoke is invisible and odourless so no matter how careful you are children still breathe in the harmful poisons.

Not only does smoking in front of children directly impact their health through secondhand smoke, but children of smokers are 90 per cent more likely to become smokers themselves.

Up to 5 million children across the UK regularly exposed to SHS in the home, resulting in over 300,000 GP visits and 9,500 hospital admissions for children each year. The cost to the NHS of treating SHS-related illness in children alone is £26 million per annum.

The national campaign has won the backing of Cambridgeshire County Council and the Kick Ash Campaign which works with young people to alert them to the dangers of smoke and to discourage them from becoming smokers themselves.

County Council Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Councillor Tony Orgee, said: “A major priority for the County Council is improving the health and wellbeing of our community - regardless of their age. I would absolutely support this new campaign which will help reduce the number of children and young people who are exposed to secondhand smoke and the possible health problems it can cause as well as the increased likelihood that they become smokers themselves.”

Over eight hundred children visit their doctor every day due to the serious effects of secondhand smoke exposure, according to research published by the Royal College of Physicians . The figures have been highlighted today as the government launches a campaign to increase awareness of the hidden dangers of smoking in homes and cars.

Blake Rivers, 15 year-old Kick Ash Mentor at Ernulf Academy, said: “Working as a mentor at my school has been an enlightening experience. I have spoken to students who have told me that many of their parents also smoke. I feel that perhaps by influencing my peers that maybe they in turn will try and encourage their parents to stop smoking, this campaign will help that too”.

The only way to completely protect people from secondhand smoke is to make homes and cars entirely smokefree. As the campaign launches, a new survey2 highlights that despite the risks, many children are still exposed to secondhand smoke:

- 68% of parents who smoke admit to doing so in the car with their children present

- 75% of smoking parents were shocked to hear that secondhand smoke affects the health of so many children