News & Comment
Government launches new anti-smoking campaign
Sat 31st March, 2012
The government has launched a series of TV and radio ads that is said to show the dangers of "invisible secondhand smoke".
The new campaign is based on research which shows that most secondhand smoke is in the form of invisible, odourless gases.
It shows a young baby being surrounded by cigarette smoke as her mother smokes by the nearby kitchen door.
Another advert depicts children in a car breathing in second-hand smoke from their father's cigarette. He is smoking in the driver's seat with the window down.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said that people do not realise the serious effect of second-hand smoke.
"This campaign will raise awareness of this danger and encourage people to take action to protect others from second-hand smoke."
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said it wanted to see smoking in cars made illegal, when children are present.
Professor Terence Stephenson, President of the RCPCH, said: "The state does have a duty to protect children's health and intervene where necessary.
"Other progressive legislation such as seatbelts in cars and banning drink-driving, once met with scepticism, have proven to make a significant difference.
"I have no doubt an outright ban on smoking in cars would have the same positive results."
Prof Dame Sally Davies, England's chief medical officer, said second-hand smoke could cause a range of health problems.
"Smoking damages our lungs, causes cancers and is now the biggest risk for cot death. Parents who smoke need to think about the effect it has on their family.
"Giving up smoking or making sure you have a completely smokefree home and car is the only way to protect your family."
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said: "There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke and children are at risk of a range of diseases such as asthma, ear infections, and potentially fatal meningitis as a result of breathing in second-hand smoke in the home or car."
But Simon Clark, director of the smokers' group Forest, said the government had gone too far.
"It's only a matter of time before loving parents who smoke in or around their homes are accused of child abuse and risk having their children taken into care.
"Tobacco is a legal product. If the government doesn't want children exposed to even a whiff of smoke they will have to amend the smoking ban to allow designated smoking rooms in pubs and clubs. That is the only sensible solution.
"Meanwhile, are they going to ban barbecues and bonfires?"
Source: BBC News (31 March 3012)