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Smoke-Free Homes & Cars

What is second-hand smoke?

If you smoke indoors, levels of toxins from second-hand smoke are high and other people around you who don’t smoke end up breathing these chemicals in.

Second-hand tobacco smoke is a mixture of the smoke given off by the burning end of a cigarette, pipe, roll-up or cigar (also known as side-stream smoke) and the smoke you breathe out.

Breathing in second-hand smoke is sometimes called passive smoking

Evidence shows that around 80% of second-hand smoke is invisible and odourless, so you can’t always smell or see signs of second-hand smoke.

Even when a cigarette is stubbed out the unseen poisons in the smoke can stay around moving from room to room for up to 5 hours 

Because the particles are smaller than dust, they drift easily as you move through the house and open doors, so smoke can still be there even when you can’t see or smell it. 

Lighting scented candles or using air fresheners might attempt to hide the smell but it doesn’t get rid of the harmful toxins.

A non-smoker being exposed to second-hand smoke significantly increases the risk of
having lung cancer and respiratory problems such as COPD and heart disease.

Just thirty minutes of exposure to second-hand smoke affects blood platelets in a way
which starts to raise the risk of heart attack or other heart-related issues.

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Children and second-hand smoke

In the UK second-hand smoke is the cause of over 300,000 children’s visits to the doctor every year – and nearly 10,000 children being admitted to hospital.

Second-hand smoke accounts for 40 cot deaths in the UK every year. Children and infants are more vulnerable to tobacco smoke than adults because they have smaller airways and breathe faster and their immune systems are still developing.

A child exposed to second-hand smoke in the home is more likely to contract meningitis or get a middle ear infection (glue ear), and twice as likely to have asthma symptoms all year round. Being around second-hand smoke is linked to an increased risk of coughing, wheezing, croup, eye and nasal irritation and sore throats.

Children who grow up around smokers are three times more likely to start smoking themselves when they get older- another great reason to take smoking away from children and young people.

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Pets and second-hand smoke

Second-hand smoke is also bad for your pets – and smokers are more likely to have a fire in their home.

Dogs exposed to second-hand smoke have more eye infections, allergies, and respiratory issues, including lung cancer.

Cats that live in a smoky environment are at greater risk of developing asthma and lung cancer, along with the dangers of licking fur that is coated in toxic tar released from burning cigarettes.

Birds are also affected by second-hand smoke. They have respiratory systems that are extremely sensitive to airborne pollutants, making them very likely to develop respiratory problems (such as pneumonia) and lung cancer when exposed to second-hand smoke. These feathered pets also have a higher risk of skin, heart and eye, problems when exposed to a smoky environment.

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Travel and second-hand smoke

If you smoke in a confined space such as a car, you’re exposing your fellow passengers to even more harmful chemicals. Opening a window or having the air conditioning on does not remove the toxins and prevent the danger of exposing children to second-hand smoke. This is why smoking in cars with children on board has been banned in England since October 2015.

You could be fined up to £1000, with a fixed penalty of £100 for breaking this law.

So, when you smoke, it’s not just your health that’s put at risk, but the health of anyone around you.

Smoke-free Pledge

Top tips for making your smoke-free pledge

Set a date to make your home and/or car smoke-free.

Even if you don’t feel ready to quit smoking right now, making your home smoke-free can help protect your family from the harmful chemicals in smoke.

Tell your family and friends that you want to protect your family and ask for their support meaning that no one smokes inside your home or car.

Make some no-smoking signs with your children and put them up on your door and in your car as a reminder of who you are doing this for (see the downloadable certificate and leaflet above).

Make sure cigarettes are out of sight Remove ashtrays from the home (and car) – put them at the back door or outside for when you want a smoke.

If you’re going on a longer car journey then plan where and when to stop on the journey to allow for smoking breaks. It will help you feel more positive knowing when the stop is.

Once you’ve decided to have a smoke-free home/car, give them both a thorough clean and dust. Chemicals from cigarettes gather in house dust. If you’ve cleaned and washed upholstery, it makes you less likely to want to make it dirty again by smoking indoors.

Have a coat, shoes and an umbrella in a porch/doorway ready to go outside for a cigarette. The easier it is, the more likely you are to do it.

Where possible and safe, go right outside your home and close the door behind you to prevent smoke from travelling back. Do this even when other people are not at home.

Chemicals from smoke remain on your breath for about 20 minutes after a cigarette. When you come inside, wash your hands and don’t kiss babies/children for this time.

Be positive and remind yourself why you have made the effort to keep your home/car smoke-free.

Remember that your home will be a brighter, fresher home!

A smoke-free home is a safer home- more fires in the home are caused by smoking than any other cause.