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Second-hand Smoke: Just The Facts

Second-hand smoke is present wherever tobacco is smoked.

Breathing other people’s second-hand smoke, also known as passive smoking, can cause the same health problems as smoking. This includes breathing problems and increased risk of diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

Young children, babies and people who are already ill or very old and frail are particularly vulnerable, but second-hand smoke is bad for everyone’s health – even pets!

It has been against the law to smoke in public places like pubs and restaurants since 2007. As a result of this legislation, there were 1,200 fewer hospital admissions for heart attacks recorded in the following year alone. Imagine how many more heart attacks have been avoided since then!

Smokefree Cars Legislation

Since 1st October 2015, it has been illegal to smoke in vehicles with someone under 18 present.

This law helps protect under 18s from the dangers of secondhand smoke and both the driver and the smoker can be fined £50 if anyone smokes in the vehicle.

4 helpful ways to explain second-hand smoke:

  1. Smoke coming off the thing that’s being smoked
  2. Smoke coming out of the person’s mouth after they’ve inhaled it
  3. E-cigarettes don’t give off second-hand smoke because they don’t contain tobacco
  4. Smokeless tobacco doesn’t produce second-hand smoke because it is not smoked – as the name implies!

5 very important facts about second-hand smoke

  1. Just as with cigarettes, second-hand smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, many of which are carcinogenic – which means they are directly involved in causing cancer
  2. 85% of cigarette smoke is invisible; just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there
  3. Smoke hangs around for up to 2 ½ hours after the cigarette has been put out. That’s a long time for a room to become smoke-free again
  4. Smoke sticks to things in the room, like carpets, sofas, curtains, and even pets’ fur
  5. All this means is that even if someone only smokes in the house occasionally, it’s never properly smoke-free and there will be lingering second-hand smoke

How you can help keep your home smoke-free

  1. Explain to the people in your home about second-hand smoke and show them the information from the ASH website.
  2. If your family signs up to be smoke-free, you will get a pack with a window sticker saying ‘thank you for not smoking in my home’. Stick it in the window to make sure visitors know that your home is smoke-free.

And another thing… Smoking in the home increases the risk of a house fire by 35%.

How to get help

If you have any more questions on this area or would like to speak to somebody about this topic, have a look at the links or search for your local services in the blue box below. Alternatively you can always contact your school nurse.

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