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World Smokefree Day 31 May

30 May 2005

World Smokefree Day 31 May

SMOKEFREE WORLD SHOULD BE MORE THAN A WISH

As we welcome World Smokefree Day* 2005, it is time to celebrate the progress made towards a smokefree New Zealand, says The National Heart Foundation of New Zealand's Medical Director Professor Norman Sharpe.

"There has been significant movement forward over the past 20 years, particularly the recent legislation requiring smokefree workplaces, including bars and restaurants. However, we can't become complacent and allow it to stop there. At the moment a smokefree world is merely a wish - but with determination, it could become a reality.

"Tobacco control must remain at the top of our public health agenda if we are to see a reduction in smoking-related hospital admissions and preventable early deaths."

Prof Sharpe said that around 25 per cent of the adult New Zealand population and 50 per cent of Maori still smoke. "Smoking remains one of the major causes of disease of the heart and circulation in New Zealand, which is responsible for 40 per cent of all deaths each year. These are not acceptable statistics.

"It's not only smokers dying of heart disease - exposure to second-hand smoke has been directly linked to a range of health problems including heart disease and death in smokers' family and whanau."

He said that children are particularly vulnerable to second-hand smoke. "Even short-term exposure is harmful to our children's health. To safeguard the next generation from increased risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases, we need to be encouraging smokefree homes and cars. It's not enough for a smoker to move to another room to smoke, as the carcinogens from the cigarette remain in the air for children to breathe", he says.

"World Smokefree Day is an ideal time for parents and caregivers to 'take the smoke outside' for the sake of their loved ones", says Prof Sharpe.

*World Smokefree Day is a World Health Organization initiative celebrated globally each year on 31 May. The Heart Foundation is a member of The World Smokefree Day Group, a group of organisations including the Health Sponsorship Council, the Smokefree Coalition, the Maori Smokefree Coalition, Smokefree Pacifika Action Network, the Cancer Society of New Zealand, Asthma and Respiratory Foundation, the Quit Group, ASH, and Te Hotu Manawa Maori.


BACKGROUND

Harm caused by second-hand smoke

* Second-hand smoke is a mixture of smoke breathed out by the smoker (mainstream smoke) and smoke released from the lit cigarette (sidestream smoke). * It contains cancer causing and other toxic substances that are often in far greater concentrations than in the smoke inhaled by the smokers * Children are especially vulnerable to second-hand smoke, as their lungs are smaller and more delicate * Children exposed to second-hand smoke are more likely to need hospital care in their first year, are more susceptible to coughs, colds and wheezes and are off school more often.

Creating a Smokefree Home

Having a smokefree home is about creating a healthy environment for children to grow up in. Even if no one in the household smokes, making rules about not smoking can have a powerful positive impact on children. Here are some tips for making homes and cars smokefree:

* Make a rule - your home is smokefree at all times, for everyone.

* Let other people know that they will need to smoke outside when they visit you.

* Ask people who want to smoke to go outside.

* Celebrate having a smokefree home: put Smokefree Home/Whare Auahi Kore stickers on your letterbox or at the entrance to your home.

Similar to your home, it is important to make smokefree rules about your car.

For more information go to: http://www.secondhandsmoke.co.nz/

ENDS

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