This is the text of a letter I sent recently as Health Champion for South Somerset District - so far 3 major local newspapers have run the letter, 2 are doing extra features. Please let us know what you think.
SMOKE FREE SOUTH SOMERSET??
Just over a year ago the smoking ban came into force to protect workers and the public from the effects of second-hand smoke. The ban included most work vehicles as well, and has been described as the biggest advance for public health in a generation. Although smoking has declined it is still by far the biggest cause of premature death. Half of all lifelong smokers are killed by tobacco, and half of those die 20-25 years early. Only 3 out of 10 heavy smokers will survive past retirement age.
The Government is now consulting on the next steps in tackling smoking, and as Health Champion for South Somerset, I particularly want to focus on protecting our children from smoking.
Children are far more vulnerable to the effects of smoke than adults, as their lungs are small and not yet fully formed.
• Thousands of children a year in the UK are admitted to hospital due to the
effects of second-hand smoke.
• Children of smokers are 72 times more likely to suffer serious chest infections than the children of non-smokers.
• Most cot deaths are now due to second hand smoke.
• Children who live with smokers are far more likely to become smokers themselves.
So I want to know if your readers agree with me that we need to do more to protect children from smoking.
Research evidence has shown that the smoke from just one cigarette results in a toxic atmosphere inside the car. Levels of minute particles are many times higher than recognised safety limits after just a few minutes. This is the case even with the driver’s window open a few inches.
In the home, the problem is that invisible toxic gases in cigarette smoke go right through the house. Confining smoking to one room, or smoking by an open window, doesn’t really help much. The only sure way to protect children from cigarette smoke is not to smoke inside the house.
No one is suggesting that the smoking ban should be extended to people’s homes, but some countries have made it illegal to smoke in cars when children are present. Should we?
Should the government be running smokefree homes campaigns to help more people make their homes smokefree, to protect children?
Should shops require a licence to sell tobacco, and if so, should they lose it if they sell to children?
We’d like to know what the people of South Somerset think about these issues. Your readers can tell us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Your readers might also like to respond to the consultation themselves by September 8th via www.smokefreeaction.org.uk