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Reducing exposure to secondhand smoke

Reducing exposure to secondhand smoke

Tobacco smoke is poison. Over 80% of second hand smoke is invisible and odourless so no matter how careful you are, if you share a home with other people and smoke inside they still breathe in the harmful poisons.

Fresh has worked to ensure the smokefree legislation of 2007 has been a resounding success in protecting workers from the effects of smoke. The law is now supported by 86% of North East adults and opposed by just 7%.

Millions of children in the UK are exposed to secondhand smoke that puts them at increased risk of lung disease, meningitis and cot death. This results in an estimated 310,000 trips to the GP or hospital by children in the UK each year.

It's not just children at risk. Adults who live with smokers and regularly breathe in their smoke are also being exposed to a greater risk of cancer, heart disease and many other illnesses.

A problem is that some people who smoke think they're removing the health risks by opening a kitchen or car window, but no level of secondhand smoke exposure is safe.

Fresh runs the Smokefree Families programme to enable staff working in local authorities, NHS and children's centres to protect children from the harm of smoke. It offers free training to staff who work with children and families in local communities, as well as resources.


The latest YouGov data (2015) shows:

•80% of people in the North East support smokefree law
•80% would like to see smoking banned in outdoor children's play areas
•88% of people would like to see smoking banned in cars carrying children


Smoking in cars


Fresh responded in summer 2014 to a Government consultation on whether to press ahead with a law in England to protect children from being exposed to smoking in cars. It followed a vote in Parliament which was overwhelmingly supported by MPs of all parties. You can read our submission here.


Around 84,000 children in the North East are exposed to secondhand smoke every year in the home and the car, resulting in around 13.000 GP appointments and hospital admissions for diseases such as asthma and glue ear. Secondhand smoke is also shockingly a cause of meningitis ( smoke increases the risks of acquring the bacteria that causes meningitis) and cot death.


Some people may believe opening a car window will protect their children from the toxic fumes, but cars are confined spaces and this is not effective. Smoke contains poisons like arsenic and it lingers.


In summer 2014 Fresh responded to a six-week consultation for ministers to debate whether to press ahead with a law in England against smoking in cars carrying children. Legislation protecting children from having to breathe in second-hand smoke in cars has been introduced from Oct 2015, and we support it. Children hate adults smoking around them, but do not always have a voice – it is vital they deserve the protection of the law. Read about our experiment with Newcastle University which proved smoking's not safe for children in cars, even with the window down.


The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health has produced enforcement guidance for local partners to prohibit smoking in cars carrying children.


Smokefree playgrounds


 A new suite of locally adaptable resources has been developed by Fresh to help councils make children's playgrounds smoke free.


Seeing adult role models like parents smoking can make children more curious and interested in smoking. Children whose parents or siblings smoke are around three times more likely to smoke than children living in non-smoking households.


As well as a briefing, Fresh has developed signs that can be localised marking playgrounds as smoke free zones and thanking parents for not smoking in the playground as children copy what they see.


According to a poll by YouGov, 80% of people in the North East think that smoking should not be allowed in children’s outdoor play areas, while  89% of people would like smoking to become a thing of the past for children.. 


As well as offering extra protection from tobacco smoke, smoke free playgrounds will also help to protect the environment by reducing discarded cigarette butts - a problem sometimes encountered by parents in parks in the North East.


Click through to the Smokefree Playgrounds page in our professionals area.