Adult non-smokers have an increased risk of potentially life threatening illnesses if they grow up around smokers, according to new research.
Children who are exposed to second hand smoke are at a higher risk of asthma and respiratory infections, which can also lead to further health complications later in life, according to a study led by the American Cancer Society.
Exposure to smoke of approximately 10 or more hours a week as a child can increase the risk of death in later life from ischemic heart disease by 27%, chronic obstructive lung disease by 42% and stroke by 23% compared to children who live with non-smokers.
Katie Patrick, from Cancer Research UK, said: ‘Breathing in second-hand smoke is dangerous. This is a good reason for people who spend time with children to stop smoking.
‘Patients who are unable to stop, should be advised to look for alternative ways to get nicotine when you’re around children and if you have to smoke remember to go outside to reduce your child’s exposure to passive smoke.’
Experts hope to raise awareness of this subject matter by highlighting how dangerous it can be to smoke around children.
Helen Donovan, Professional Lead for Public Health Nursing at the RCN said: ‘Children are particularly susceptible to the effects of second-hand smoke, and it's estimated that more than one in five children in the UK live in a household where at least one person smokes.
‘Inhaling second hand smoke leaves children and infants more vulnerable to severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections, ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome, as well as coughs and colds.’
Figures obtained from the anti-smoking group Action on Smoking and Health, (ASH) reveal that around 9 million adults in the UK smoke cigarettes: 19% of men and 15% of women. Two thirds of smokers start before the age of 18.
‘Even if smoking outside the house, it’s important to make sure smoke doesn’t blow back in through open windows, and dangerous chemicals will still be left on clothes and skin,’ said Ms Donovan.
‘The best thing anyone can do to support their health and the health of their loved ones is quit smoking.’