Almost half of Victoria’s cigarette smokers still light up around children, despite an increase over the last decade in the number of homes that enforce a no-smoking policy.
In 1998 just over half of surveyed households had home smoking bans, but in the latest survey just under three quarters of respondents to a phone survey said their household’s regular smoker always or usually smoked outside.
If there is a child in the house, it is even more likely (82 per cent) the smoker will go outside.
However the researchers said it was not an even trend. Parents were much more likely to protect their children from cigarette smoke when they were aged under five. There was a belief that as their child gets older they are better able to tolerate or avoid smoke exposure.
Also, households in lower socio-economic areas were less likely to enforce home smoking bans.
Outside the home, there has been an increase over the last 11 years in the proportion of smokers who do not smoke at all when they are around children: from 45 per cent in 1998 to 56 per cent in 2008.
The research was released today at the launch of a new ad campaign by Quit Victoria, titled “Cigarettes are eating you and your kids alive”. The ads were copied from a successful New York campaign, and recently also screened in NSW.
Passive smoking leads to a “long, sad catalogue of risks” in children, said Dr Rob Roseby of the Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Adolescent Health.
“Smoking causes trans-generational disease,” he said. “Children and toddlers are exposed primarily at the home, and then later at places like child care or shopping centres.”
If a parent smokes their child is twice as likely to go to hospital with pneumonia, twice as likely to get ear disease that must be treated with surgery, and if they need an operation is ten times more likely to have difficulty with anaesthesia.
They also have increased risks of asthma, coughs and sneezes, SIDS and life-threatening meningococcal infection.
Victorian Health Minister Daniel Andrews, who launched the campaign, said Victorians owed it to their children to take a tough stand on this issue.
The ads were funded through the state’s Cancer Action Plan, which was launched last year. Under the plan, and the Government’s tobacco control strategy, smoking has already been banned in schoolyards and it will be illegal in cars carrying children from January.
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