Smoking in cars changes lives…. permanently
From 1 October 2015 it will be illegal to smoke in a car (or other vehicles) with anyone under 18 present. The law is changing to protect children and young people from the dangers of second-hand smoke.
The Smoking Trend
Smoking used to be seen as trendy and fashionable. It forms part of some of the great films of the 1950’s.
We are now better informed and perceptions have changed dramatically moving from 45% of the population smoking in 1974 to 19% in 2013.
Restrictions were put in place on marketing, accessibility and price of cigarettes making them less appealing. There have also been a number of campaigns detailing the dangerous health risks.
25% of smokers are aged between the ages of 20-34. So it is no surprise that it is this group who are targeted. Afterall, it is this age group who are most likely to be celebrating weddings or new births, and so a great impact can be made on the next generation also.
What is Second-Hand Smoke?
There are two types of smoking:
Active – those who choose to smoke and directly inhale from the cigarette, and
Passive – those who inhale smoke generated from the end of someone else’s cigarette or exhaled by an active smoker.
Take a look at all the information on the internet and read the many trials and studies that have taken place. They all have the same result:
Inhaling second-hand smoke damages health and can be a killer.
Children are especially vulnerable as they have less well-developed airways, lungs and immune systems.
Second-hand smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, many of which are irritants and toxins, including:
The smoke also contains other chemicals, many of which are irritants or toxins and more than 50 are known carcinogens (the ones that can cause cancer).
And yet, more than 430,000 children are exposed to second-hand smoke in the family car each week.
What are the Health Risks?
Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s harmless. People who breathe in second-hand smoke are at risk of the same diseases as smokers, including cancer and heart disease.
Breathing second-hand smoke increases a child’s, or an adult’s, risk of lung cancer by 24% and heart disease by 25% (Source: NHS).
Bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma and sudden infant death syndrome are significantly more common in infants and children who have smoking parents.
Despite that, according to a study by the charity Ash, nearly two thirds (64%) of pupils reported being exposed to second-hand smoke indoors or in a car. Of these, 59% experienced second-hand smoke in their own or other people’s homes and 34% were exposed to smoke in a car.
Influencing childhood smoking
There is a strong correlation between adult smokers and being exposed to smoking as a child. Parents make compelling role models for their children who are heavily influenced by them.
Children who live with parents or siblings who smoke, are up to 3 times more likely to become smokers themselves.
It is estimated that, each year, at least a staggering 23,000 young people in England and Wales start smoking by the age of 15 as a result of exposure to smoking in the home.
Child and adolescent smoking causes serious risks to respiratory health both in the short and long term. Smoking impairs lung growth and initiates premature lung function decline which may lead to an increased risk of chronic obstructive lung disease later in life.
The earlier children become regular smokers and persist in the habit as adults, the greater the risk of developing lung cancer or heart disease.
There is a strong association between smoking and other substance use.
Based on those who gave valid responses in the Ash 2014 Secondary School Survey, among 15-year olds, 10% reported smoking in the week before the survey, including 9% who had also drunk alcohol or taken drugs recently, or had done both.
Who do the new regulations apply to?
The law applies to every driver in England and Wales, including those aged 17 and those with a provisional driving licence.
The law applies to any vehicle that is enclosed wholly or partly by a roof. It still applies if people have the windows or sunroof open, have the air conditioning on, or if they sit in the open doorway of the vehicle.
The law won’t apply to a convertible car with the roof completely down or if the driver is 17 year old driver who is on their own in the car
This legislation is to protect children, but with the dangers detailed above, how long will it be before this is extended to not smoking in cars at all?
If this article has helped just one child be exposed to smoke, then it was worth writing. Make the most of Stoptoper (more details on www.stoptober.smokefree.nhs.uk) or visit Crown Pharmacy in Redbourn. They offer free advice and support (including Nicotine Replacement Therapy by a trained advisor) in a private consultation room with no appointment necessary.
The £50 fine shouldn’t be the deterrent, but the damaging health risks to your child should be. Please don’t put them in this position – NO SMOKING IN CARS WITH CHILDREN. Thank you.