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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.


Children who are reguarly exposed to smoke in the home or the car are at increased risk of coughs, colds, chest infections, asthma and ear problems. Secondhand smoke also increases the risks of meningits and cot death. But it's not just children who are 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.


Fresh, with partners in local authorities across the North East, has worked to ensure the smokefree legislation of 2007 has been a resounding success in protecting people  from the effects of smoke. A decade on in  2017, figures showed the law was supported by 86% of North East adults and opposed by just 5%.


But SHS is still a problem: 

  • In 2010 the Royal College of Physicians estimated SHS exposure results in an estimated 310,000 trips to the GP or hospital by children in the UK each year. 
  • Figures released from the British Thoracic Society in Nov 2016 show that one in three children (32%)  who ends up in hospital with an asthma attack has been exposed to cigarette smoke.  Read the findings.



Fresh supported mounting calls for a a law to protect children from smoking in cars, with research suggesting that more than 430,000 children were being exposed to second-hand smoke in the family car each week. Many partners supported this call - the British Lung Foundation started a campaign to protect children in 2010. 


Thanks to the support of the public and overwhelming support from MPs of all parties, the law came into force in October 2015. This was a huge win for the lung health of our children. 


To mark the law, Fresh with Newcastle University and Public Health England conducted an experiment to highlight the dangers of exposure to secondhand smoke in vehicles. Despite what people might think, opening the car windows does not remove the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. 


The experiment showed that even with the window open, levels of dangerous chemicals were more than 100 times higher than recommended safety guidelines. When the windows were closed and the fan on, levels of chemicals were more than 200 times higher than safety guidelines. Read the findings


What else are we doing?

Fresh with kind permission from the Scottish government has ran two phases  of our Secondhand Smoke is Poison TV campaign in 2017 and 2018, which is supported by the British Lung Foundation. 


This campaign encourages smokers to quit or take it outside, ensuring children and grandchildren are not regularly exposed to smoke in indoor spaces. Evaluation of the campaign has found:


  • 75% of smokers who saw the campaign said it made them more concerned about smoking 
  • 38% took action, from cutting down, to going outside to smoke, stopping smoking in the same room as a family member, stopping smoking, or switching to an electronic cigarette.


Smokefree playgrounds


PLaygrounds                  PLaygroundB


Fresh has developed Smokefree Playgrounds - a suite of locally adaptable resources for local authorities to make children's playgrounds smoke free.


The toolkit contains signs that can be localised to mark playgrounds as smoke free zones, and thank parents for not smoking in the playground. According to a poll by YouGov, around 8/10 people don't believe smoking should be allowed in children’s outdoor play areas.


Smoke free playgrounds also help to protect the environment by reducing discarded cigarette butts - a problem sometimes encountered by parents in parks.


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