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Smokers urged to take it outside.

smoker at the back door1

5:44am 19th June 2017
(Updated 5:47am 19th June 2017)

A new campaign's launching to encourage smokers to take the poison outside.

The British Lung Foundation, are supporting the hard hitting initiative by Fresh - Smoke Free North East.

It's as figures suggest 1 in 10 children in our region, are still being exposed to toxic secondhand smoke in the home.

Ailsa Rutter is the Director of Fresh.

Ailsa Rutter new

The "Secondhand smoke is Poison" campaign is warning that smoking in the home exposes not just smokers but  children and adults to harmful levels of toxic chemicals such as carbon monoxide, benzene and cyanide which creep from room to room and can linger for up to five hours.

Ahead of the 10 year anniversary of the smokefree law, on the 1 July, it's been revealed kids in our region, are still drinking in toxic secondhand smoke at home.

Ailsa has this message.

Secondhand smoke causes numerous health problems in infants and children, raising the risks of more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections, ear infections, and even meningitis and sudden infant death.

Children are more vulnerable because they breathe faster than adults so inhale more of the poisons.

Among adults, studies have consistently shown exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of stroke and, coronary heart disease (CHD) and lung cancer in non-smokers.

Breathing secondhand smoke interferes with the normal functioning of the heart, blood, and vascular systems in ways that increase the risk of having a heart attack. Even brief exposure can damage the lining of blood vessels and cause blood platelets to become stickier.

The Royal College of Physicians 2010 report Passive Smoking and Children, estimated that secondhand smoke exposure in UK children each year caused over 20,000 cases of lower respiratory tract infection, 120,000 cases of middle ear disease, at least 22,000 new cases of wheeze and asthma, 200 cases of bacterial meningitis, and 40 sudden infant deaths - one in five of all cot deaths.

Dr Arshid Murad, consultant paediatrician at James Cook University Hospital, said:

"Breathing in second hand smoke is harmful to people from all age groups, but children are especially vulnerable as their lungs are still developing and they breathe faster than adults, so inhale more of the harmful poisons. There is no safe level of exposure."

"We see the effects of this on hospital wards too often. Babies and children who breathe in smoke are more likely to have problems with asthma attacks and chest infections, and need more hospital care and doctors' appointments."

"Most parents take this seriously when they realise that their smoking may be making their child unwell and want to do something positive about it."

The campaign website smokefreefamilies.co.uk gives people the facts, helping them understand how smoking indoors pollutes the air their family breathes, and how they can take simple steps to make their home and car smoke free, which can include switching to an electronic cigarette.

This is the second time Fresh has teamed up with the British Lung Foundation to launch a major campaign aimed at raising awareness of the risks of tobacco smoke, following the "Every Breath" campaign which first launched in 2011.

The BLF campaigned for the law preventing smoking in cars with children which was introduced in 2015 and is now supported by 91% of North East adults.

Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation said:

"Secondhand smoke is poison, with potential to cause severe damage to children's health in enclosed spaces. We campaigned successfully for legislation to stop people smoking in cars with children, where concentrations of smoke can be 11 times higher than found previously in the average smoky pub. Unfortunately, some people continue to smoke in other environments, not realising that the fumes raise the risk of severe asthma attacks and respiratory infections among children."

"Increasing awareness of these dangers through vital educational campaigns, like this one, is the key to helping people protect their families' health."

In contrast to the known harm from secondhand smoke, there is no evidence of harm to bystanders from exposure to e-cigarette vapour.

The many harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke are either not contained in e-cigarette vapour at all, or are usually found at much lower levels.

The risks to bystanders from exposure to e-cigarette vapour are likely to be extremely low, with the most likely effect being limited to irritation of the throat.

How long does secondhand smoke linger?  

Dr Sean Semple is a senior lecturer at the University of Aberdeen, and has led research into the field of exposure to secondhand smoke and pollution. In the past five years his research group has measured a million minutes of pollution levels in over 100 homes across Scotland.

They found high concentrations of fine particles known as PM2.5 that in some cases are much higher than the worst cases of pollution.
This found:

"    Smoking homes generally had levels around seven times higher than smoke-free homes.
"    1 in 4 homes had average levels higher than Beijing, one of China's most polluted cities, or during the "killer smog" in central London which made headlines in 2014 and 2015.
"    62% of smoking homes had daily average concentrations that exceed the World Health Organisation PM2.5 24-hour guidance limit (25 microgrammes per cubic metre of air)
"    It took almost one hour for secondhand smoke levels to reduce by 50% and 2hrs 40 minutes to reduce to the World Health Organisation guidance levels - but in some cases it took more than five hours to reduce to the WHO recommended limit.

A toxic cocktail - the poisons in tobacco smoke (see Cancer Research UK infographic below)

smoking infographic CRUK

When a cigarette burns, it releases a dangerous cocktail of over 5000 chemicals - many of which can cause cancer.

Some are found naturally in the tobacco plant, some are absorbed by the plant from the soil, air or fertilisers, some are formed when tobacco leaves are processed or are added by the tobacco industry.

Others form when a cigarette burns, so are only present in the smoke coming off a cigarette. These include:


"    Benzene - an industrial solvent refined from crude oil
"    Carbon monoxide - a poisonous gas with no smell given off by car exhausts and faulty central heating systems
"    Arsenic - a poison used in wood preservatives
"    Polonium 210 - a highly radioactive element
"    Cadmium and lead - used in batteries

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