The home remains the environment where second-hand smoke (SHS) exposure is likely to be the highest, particularly for children. In 2014, 22% of children aged 10-11 reported living in households where at least one parent smoked in the home1.
Our 'smokefree homes' campaign aims to raise awareness of the impact that smoking indoors has on children & pets whilst supporting smokers to quit or take smoking outside their home.
Why smokefree homes?
- Fire risk
According to South Wales Fire and Rescue someone dies from a fire caused by a cigarette every 3 days in the UK2. In 2014/15, 163 fires in Welsh homes were caused by smoking materials3.
- Second-hand smoke
Exposure to second-hand smoke carries significant health risks, for adults and children alike. Every cigarette contains 4,000 chemicals and at least 50 of these are cancer-causing, even in second-hand smoke.
In 2002 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), convened by the World Health Organization, conducted a review of evidence on second-hand smoke and cancer and found that “the evidence is sufficient to conclude that involuntary smoking is a cause of lung cancer in never smokers”. The report concludes that exposure to other people’s smoke increases the risk of lung cancer in non-smokers by 20-30% and coronary heart disease by 25-35%4.
Passive smoking in children accounts for over 300,000 GP consultations and 9,500 hospital admissions a year in the UK, and cost the NHS about £23.3 million5.
The principle source of second-hand smoke exposure among children is in the home. This has been found to increase young infants' risk of lower respiratory tract infections (including flu, bronchitis and pneumonia) by around 50%6, whilst it is also found to more than double a child’s risk of invasive meningococcal disease, with the greatest risks found for children under five years of age and those whose mothers smoked in the postnatal period7.
Furthermore, evidence suggests exposure to SHS in the home not only impacts on the health of children but also their likelihood of becoming smokers themselves8. The study by Leonardi-Bee et al found children whose parents both smoked were at a three-fold increased risk of smoking uptake. Children were further found to be over 70% more likely to start smoking if just one parent smoked, and over twice as likely if that parent was the mother. The authors estimated around 23,000 adolescents in the UK were smoking as a result of exposure to household smoking.
80% of cigarette smoke is invisible and can hang around for 4 hours - this means opening a door or window, keeping smoking to one room, or smoking when people aren't around makes little difference to the smoke in your home.
It's not just children who are affected - animals can get ill too! There's a direct link between pets such as dogs and cats living in a smoking environment and a higher risk of health problems including some animal cancers, cell damage and weight gain9.
What can I do?
Looking to quit smoking, cut down or advice on how to make your home smokefree? We offer one-to-one, quick online advice through our supportive community, Smokefree Me... chat to us!
- Set a date - this'll help you to prepare to make your home smokefree
- Talk it through - chat about your smokefree home plan your family and friends and ask for their support
- Make a list - it is important to be positive and remind yourself why you are making an effort to make your home smokefree
1Moore, G., Moore, L., Ahmed, N. et al. (2014). Exposure to second-hand smoke in cars and homes, and e-cigarette use among 10-11 year old children in Wales: CHETS Wales 2.
2South Wales Fire and Rescue. "Stay Safe in the Home." 2013.
3Stats Wales. Accessed April 2016.
4Tobacco smoke and involuntary smoking. IARC Monographs on the evaluation of carcinogenic risks to humans. Vol 83. Lyon, France, 2004.
5Royal College of Physicians (2010). Passive smoking and children.
6ones LL, Hashim A, McKeever T, Cook DG, Britton J, Leonardi-Bee J. (2011). Parental and household smoking and the increased risk of bronchitis, bronchiolitis and other lower respiratory infections in infancy: systematic review and meta-analysis. Respiratory Research. 12: 5.
7Murray RL, Britton J, Leonardi-Bee J. (2012). Second hand smoke exposure and the risk of invasive meningococcal disease in children: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC public health; 12(1): 1-11.
8Leonardi-Bee J, Jere ML, Britton J. (2011). Exposure to parental and sibling smoking and the risk of smoking uptake in childhood and adolescence: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Thorax; 66(10): 847-55.
9University of Glasgow's Small Animal Hospital. 2015.