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Smoke-free Homes & Cars - What is second-hand smoke?

Indoor smoking creates high levels of invisible and odourless toxins in the form of second-hand smoke. This mixture includes the smoke from the burning end of tobacco and exhaled smoke. Passive smoking poses risks even when smoke is not visibly present. The poisons can linger for up to 5 hours, moving through rooms and lingering, despite efforts to eliminate them by using scented candles or air fresheners, which only mask the smell and leave the harmful toxins in the air.

In the UK, second-hand smoke leads to over 300,000 children visiting the doctor annually, with nearly 10,000 admissions to the hospital. It also causes 40 cot deaths each year. Children are more susceptible to its harmful effects due to smaller airways, faster breathing, and developing immune systems. 

Exposure at home increases the risk of meningitis, ear infections, and year-round asthma symptoms. Additionally, it’s linked to issues like coughing, wheezing, croup, and throat irritation. Children around smokers are three times more likely to pick up smoking later in life, emphasizing the importance of keeping smoking away from them.

Second-hand smoke harms pets and increases the risk of home fires for smokers. 

Dogs exposed may suffer from eye infections, allergies, and respiratory issues, including lung cancer. 

Cats in smoky environments face a higher likelihood of asthma and lung cancer, compounded by the dangers of ingesting toxic tar while grooming. 

Birds, with sensitive respiratory systems, are prone to problems like pneumonia and lung cancer due to second-hand smoke exposure, as well as increased risks of skin, heart, and eye issues in smoky environments.

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 smoke-free.

Even if quitting isn’t on the immediate horizon, creating a smoke-free home safeguards your family from harmful smoke chemicals. Inform your friends and family of your commitment, requesting their support in maintaining a smoke-free environment indoors and in the car. Craft no-smoking signs with your children for a visible reminder. Keep cigarettes out of sight, relocate ashtrays, and plan smoking breaks during longer car journeys.

Clean your home and car thoroughly, making it less tempting to smoke indoors. Prepare for outdoor smoking with a designated spot and quick access. Whenever possible, step outside and close the door to prevent smoke from re-entering. After smoking, wait 20 minutes, wash your hands, and avoid close contact with babies/children. Stay positive, reinforcing why you’ve chosen a smoke-free lifestyle, creating a brighter and safer home free from the increased fire risk associated with smoking.