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Parents Urged: Protect Children From Smoky Poisons

Parents Challenged To Protect Children From Smoky Poisons

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation is challenging smoking parents to mark World Smokefree Day by reducing their children’s exposure to second-hand smoke to zero. The challenge comes after the release of information showing that as many as one-fifth of children are exposed to second-hand smoke at home.

“Second-hand smoke contains many poisons, including hydrogen cyanide, ammonia and carbon monoxide”, says Foundation Executive Director Jane Patterson. “This research shows that a significant number of New Zealand children are still being exposed to these poisons at home – a place where they could expect to be safe.

“The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation would like to challenge all parents who smoke to do so outside. No child needs to be exposed to tobacco smoke – we’d like to see zero exposure by the time the next survey is undertaken in early 2005.”

The report, based on a survey of 2000 people carried out for the Health Sponsorship Council last year, found that up to twenty percent of children were exposed to second-hand smoke at home. Of these, over half were exposed to second-hand smoke every day.

“Many people are well aware of the severe and sometimes fatal effect second-hand smoke can have on children with asthma. But it is important to remember that second-hand smoke can make all children sick - their lungs are smaller and more delicate so the smoke and chemicals hit them harder.”

Jane Patterson says it’s also harder for a child to get up and walk away – particularly if people smoke around them in the home.

“As adults we can ask someone not to smoke around us – children can’t always do this.”

She says that the message is simple; if you are a smoker, declare your house smokefree and smoke outside.

“Let other people know that your home is smokefree, and remove all ashtrays. Ask people who want to smoke to go outside. Make sure windows and doors are shut to stop smoke from drifting back into the house.

“It’s easy to protect your children from second-hand smoke, and could make a huge difference to their health.”

World Smokefree Day is celebrated on 31 May each year.

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