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Protecting Children From Second-Hand Smoke

Armen Hareyan's picture

It's a staggering statistic: 700 million children - almost half of the world's youth - regularly breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke.

People who smoke in confined spaces like the home or the car subject others to a dangerous mix of toxins and carcinogens including nicotine, carbon monoxide, and cyanide, even when the windows are open. Smoking exposes children to chronic health risks:

* Increases a baby's risk of dying suddenly from unexplained causes

* Contributes to low birth weight in newborns and harms lung development

* Causes bronchitis and pneumonia in young adults

* Increases risk of ear infections, asthma, coughing and wheezing among school-aged children

* These health threats to children underscore the need for parents around the world to protect the young from second-hand smoke.

Promoting a smoke-free environment for children

In the first global initiative of its kind, the International Union Against Cancer (UICC) and cancer-fighting organizations in every region will lead a year-long effort to promote smoke-free environments for children. "I love my smoke-free childhood" will launch on World Cancer Day, 4 February, with these messages for parents:

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* Avoid smoking at home or in a car

* Caution children to stay away from second-hand smoke and keep children away from places that allow smoking

* Teach children there is no safe level of second-hand smoke

* Do not smoke while pregnant or in the vicinity of someone who is pregnant

* Use a smoke-free childcare centre

* If you are a smoker, ask your doctor what you can do to stop

* Become a role model for your child - do not smoke

* Protecting our children from second-hand smoke

To back these messages, UICC is publishing a 40-page expert report, "Protecting our children from second-hand smoke".

This expert report sets out the health consequences to children of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and makes detailed recommendations on safeguarding children in homes and cars, schools, childcare facilities, and other public places. Authors include Dr Jonathan Samet, senior scientific editor of the 2004 and 2006 US Surgeon General's reports on smoking and health. Copies available on requestThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it from UICC.