We all know the terms ‘second hand smoke’ or ‘passive smoking’. Meaning we do not smoke but still face risks from the smoke of those around us. But this smoke is by no means passive. It’s actually very aggressive, particularly with children and their developing lungs.
Even though smoking is banned in many public places now, it is not banned in the most important place for children- the home. And as much as we may wish to think that all smokers go outside their homes to smoke – the fact is they don’t. Many parents or relatives of babies and children smoke around them on a regular basis.
It has long been known that smoking around children increases their chances of asthma, lung disease and upper respiratory infections. But new studies show that children exposed to cigarette smoke are actually far more likely to succumb to all sorts of infections, not just upper respiratory ones. Smoke weakens a child’s immune system.
A new study from the University of Hong Kong, whose findings were published online May 28 in the journal Tobacco Control, showed that “exposure to secondhand smoke within a distance of three meters (9.8 feet) in early life was associated with a 14 percent increased risk of being hospitalized for infectious diseases up until the age of 8.
And exposure to secondhand smoke during a baby's first six months of life increased the likelihood of a hospitalization by 45 percent by the time the child was 8. Babies born prematurely were twice as likely to be hospitalized, while those born with a low birth weight were 75 percent more likely to be hospitalized during the first eight years of life, the study found.
Children born to younger, poorer mothers were more likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke.”
So while it may be unrealistic for all parents to quit smoking tomorrow, it’s very realistic to ask and expect them to remove themselves from their children while smoking, and to wash before returning. Let’s also be mindful of the dangers of children burning themselves on cigarettes, lighters and matches, as well as accidental fires.
Passive smoking is misleading. There is nothing passive about what children are dealing with after years of exposure to constant smoke. If we cannot protect ourselves from our own smoking, the least we can do is protect our children.
California has made it illegal to smoke in your car when you have children with you? Do you believe a person should be allowed to smoke at home around children or do you think that it too, should be outlawed?
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