Bid to stop children’s exposure to passive smoking

Michael Matheson with Royal Mile Primary pupils Sam Olesky, Aatiqa Channa, Frances Campbell, Amelia Robertson, Kacper Karwaski and Danial Binigue. Picture: Gareth Easton
Michael Matheson with Royal Mile Primary pupils Sam Olesky, Aatiqa Channa, Frances Campbell, Amelia Robertson, Kacper Karwaski and Danial Binigue. Picture: Gareth Easton
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PEOPLE who expose children to second-hand smoke are being targeted in a public health campaign to create a tobacco-free generation.

The Scottish Government drive is urging parents to take their smoking outside homes and cars in a bid to reduce smoking-related illnesses in youngsters.

The initiative – which backs the Evening News campaign for a Smoke Free Lothian – aims to halve the number exposed to second-hand smoke in Scotland from 12 per cent to six, equating to 50,000 children.

Research shows 85 per cent of second-hand smoke is invisible and odourless, so many people are unaware that smoking indoors, even standing at an open window or back door, is not enough to protect children.

Harmful chemicals linger and drift around the home, with second-hand smoke thought to be responsible for more than 20,000 cases of respiratory infection in children, 200 cases of bacterial meningitis and to account for one in five cot deaths in the UK each year.

The campaign was welcomed by leading health charities and NHS Lothian, which hopes the proposals will help further reduce the annual 1800 death toll from smoking in the region.

Smoking action group ASH Scotland, which conducted its own study on the effects of passive smoking in children last year, found two children aged three and five who were exposed to pollution 50 times greater than peak time traffic in Edinburgh city centre, and about 20 times greater than recommended safe levels.

ASH chief executive Sheila Duffy said: “We welcome the Government’s decision to set the first national target anywhere in the world to reduce the number of young people affected by second-hand smoke.”

A national study in 2007 found that around 27 per cent of children in Scotland were exposed to second-hand smoke in their own home, 9.5 per cent reported exposure at someone else’s home and a further 6.5 per cent reported exposure in a car.

Public Health Minister Michael Matheson announced the targets as part of the Government’s Tobacco Control Strategy for Scotland, a five-year plan which includes the introduction of plain packaging.

He said: “This campaign isn’t about a person’s choice to smoke, it’s about smoking in a way that doesn’t harm their children.”

Colin Lumsdaine, senior health promotion specialist at NHS Lothian, said it was already working with local schools to encourage parents to make a smoke-free pledge.

He said: “There is increasing awareness about the harm caused by second-hand smoke. NHS Lothian, in partnership with West Lothian Drug and Alcohol Service and Fast Forward, runs a successful smoke-free homes and zones project in local primary schools.”

James Cant, head of British Lung Foundation Scotland, said: “Every parent wants to do the right thing to protect their kids. This campaign will give them the tools and information to do just that.”


Free support to stop smoking is available across the Lothians.

You can get information about your local stop smoking services from Smokeline on 0800 84 84 84, or visit where you can also chat online with a trained adviser.

NHS stop smoking services are available throughout the Lothians. Trained, friendly advisers will help you by giving expert advice and practical support.

This can be in a group with other people who are also trying to give up smoking, or as one-to-one support. Advisers can help with choosing medication such as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), varenicline (Champix) or bupropion (Zyban).

You can also access NHS support at any community pharmacy with weekly one-to-one support.

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Bid to make Lothians smoke-free zone