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Protecting kids from second hand smoke

1 February 2008 Media Statement

Protecting kids from second hand smoke: World Cancer Day

Associate Health Minister Damien O’Connor today welcomed this year’s World Cancer Day theme which aims to protect kids from the dangers of second hand smoke.

“The smokefree message is extremely important, especially when it focuses on children. There is no safe level of exposure to second hand smoke,” said Mr O’Connor.

“A child exposed to second-hand smoke has increased risk of cancer, middle ear infection, sudden infant death syndrome as well as increased risk of developing and exacerbating asthma. Children are also more likely to start smoking if they grow up in households where those around them smoke, particularly if one or both of their parents smoke.

“I urge parents and caregivers who smoke to be role models for their children. World Cancer Day on Monday is the ideal time for parents and caregivers to make the decision to quit,” he said.

Mr O’Connor said the theme reinforces initiatives that the Labour-led government has introduced around tobacco control. “I am pleased this year’s World Cancer Day theme highlights the risks associated with smoking and how it affects our children.

“The government has invested a substantial amount of money in this area to make it easier for people to quit smoking. For example, from today, midwives, dentists and other health practitioners can distribute cards for subsidised nicotine patches and gum to patients who smoke. For the price of a pack of cigarettes, smokers will be able to obtain an eight week supply of nicotine patches or gum,” said Mr O’Connor.

About 700 million children – almost half of the world’s children – breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke, particularly at home. Results from a 2006 survey show that more than one in three New Zealand students aged 13-15 years reported they had been exposed to someone smoking around them in their home in the past seven days.

The latest Ministry of Health figures show some 380 deaths in New Zealand each year are caused by second-hand smoke.

World Cancer Day is held every year on 4 February and is organised by the International Union Against Cancer (UICC) with the support of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other international bodies.

For more information about World Cancer Day visit


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